Archaeology Around the World Winter 2014

1. KATHMANDU (AFP).- "Two archaeologists had a hunch that the Buddha's birthplace in southern Nepal held secrets that could transform how the world understood the emergence and spread of Buddhism. Their pursuit would eventually see them excavate the sacred site of Lumbini as monks prayed nearby, leading to the stunning claim that the Buddha was born in the sixth century BC, two centuries earlier than thought. Veteran Nepalese archaeologist Kosh Prasad Acharya had carried out excavations in Lumbini before in the early 1990s, when Nepal was still ruled by a king and a Maoist insurgency had yet to kick off. The project ended in 1996 but Acharya remained unsatisfied with the results. "My belief was that there was another cultural deposit below, which we had not uncovered," the 62-year-old told AFP. He headed back to his government job in the capital Kathmandu and waited to retire, restless to return to Lumbini. The Buddha's birthplace was lost and overgrown by jungle before its rediscovery in 1896, when the presence of a third century BC pillar bearing inscriptions allowed historians to identify it as Lumbini".... more http://artdaily.com/news/67410/How-a-hunch-led-Nepalese-archaeologist-Kosh-Prasad-Acharya-to-stunning-claim-on-Buddha-birth-date#.UxSi2oWwU2E[/url]

2. CAIRO (AFP).- "A US team in Egypt has identified the tomb of pharaoh Sobekhotep I, believed to be the founder of the 13th dynasty 3,800 years ago, the antiquities minister said Monday. The team from the University of Pennsylvania had discovered the quartzite sarcophagus of Sobekhotep I, pharaoh's name and showed him sitting on a throne, Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said in a statement. "He is likely the first who ruled Egypt at the start of the 13th dynasty during the second intermediate period," the minister said. The discovery is important as not much information was available about Sobekhotep I "who ruled Egypt for four years and a half, the longest rule at this time," said Ayman El-Damarani, a ministry official. The tomb's discovery in the southern archaeological site of Abydos is expected to reveal more details about his life and rule, he added. The team also discovered the remnants of canopic vases traditionally used to preserve internal body organs, along with gold objects owned by the king." http://artdaily.com/news/67308/Archaeologists-from-the-University-of-Pennsylvania-identify-tomb-of-Egypt-pharaoh#.UxP2m4WwU2E[/url]
which weighed about 60 tonnes, a year ago, but was unable to identify who it belonged to until last week, the ministry said. Its identity was established after the team found fragments of a slab inscribed with the

3. Damage to Cairo's Museum of Islamic Art: Why Does Art Always Take in on the Chin?
By Lynda Albertson, ARCA's CEO
"As news of the explosion affecting Cairo’s Museum of Islamic Art has spread and images of the destruction were replicated across social media sites few people or news agencies paused to mention what objects were actually inside one of Egypt’s spectacular museums or talk about the heart of Islam the collection represents. 
Started in 1881, the Museum of Islamic Art initially was housed within the arcades of the mosque of the Fatimid caliph Al-HakimBi-Amr Allah. Commencing with 111 objects, gathered from mausoleums and mosques throughout Egypt, the original collection has grown substantially over the last 130 years. 
Today the objects in the Cairo museum represent one of the most comprehensive collections of Islamic art in the world. With more than 103,000 artifacts housed in 24 halls, its collection celebrates every Islamic period in Egypt covering the Fatimids, the Mamluks, the Abbasids, the Ummayads, the Tulunids, the Ottomans, and the Ayyubids dynasties.
The museum’s glass collection alone counts 5,715 pieces in its inventory.  Some are very rare, others, like this glass vessel fragment, are more commonplace. Notwithstanding, each piece helps visitors and scholars embrace and understand the history of the region and its people.
Some of the glass enameled lamps in the museum come from the mosque of Sultan Hassan who ruled Egypt twice, the first time in 1347 when he was only 13 years old.  One of the most outstanding of these glass pieces is an eight-sided chandelier made up of three layers with a dome-shaped cap and detailed Islamic decorations imprinted on its glass.
Some of the museum’s glass comes from excavations undertaken at Al-Fusṭāṭ, on the east bank of the Nile River, south of modern Cairo."  http://art-crime.blogspot.com/2014/01/why-does-art-always-take-in-on-chin.html

4. CAIRO (AFP).- "Spanish archaeologists have discovered a 3,600-year-old Egyptian mummy inside a wooden sarcophagus adorned with rare feather drawings in the ancient city of Luxor, Egypt's antiquities ministry said Thursday. The two metre-long and 50 centimetre-wide (6.5 feet by 20 inches) sarcophagus was in good condition and its colours were still bright, the ministry said in a statement. Antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim said feather drawings are rarely found on ancient coffins. "The sarcophagus goes back to the 17th dynasty (1600 years BC)," said Ali El-Asfar, the head of the antiquities ministry's pharaonic department. "Its owner could have been an important statesman, according to the sarcophagus's preliminary examination and its inscriptions." The sarcophagus bears hieroglyphic inscriptions meant to ease the journey to the afterlife, in accordance with pharaonic beliefs. The feather drawings symbolise the ancient Egyptian goddess of law Maat, who was believed to have weighed the hearts of the dead against a feather to determine their status in the afterlife. The discovery was made in an ancient burial site on Luxor's west bank, near a tomb belonging to the storehouse administrator of Queen Hatshepsut, a member of the 18th dynasty who ruled Egypt from 1502 to 1482 BC. The Spanish archeological team, which has been working in Luxor for 13 years, discovered last year the wooden sarcophagus of a five-year-old boy that goes back to the 17th dynasty. Luxor, a city of around 500,000 residents on the banks of the Nile in southern Egypt, is an open-air museum of intricate temples, tombs of pharaonic rulers and landmarks such as the Winter Palace hotel, where crime novelist Agatha Christie is said to have written "Death on the Nile." http://artdaily.com/news/68218/Archaeologists-find-3-600-year-old-Egyptian-mummy-in-well-preserved-sarcophagus-#.UxTno4WwU2E[/url]

5. MEXICO CITY.- "Recent analysis made to the 4th Offering of La Venta have allowed investigators to discover evidence suggesting that the ancient Olmec civilization, that flourished in the Gulf of Mexico, reached a territorial and commercial expansion much bigger than what had been originally thought, since it’s believed they were in contact with Guatemala, Guerrero and Oaxaca. The offering, found in 1955, is made up of 16 figurines carved in different green stones representing Motagua River in Guatemala, and serpentine (minerals) of Guerrero and Oaxaca. This makes us suppose that the artifacts represent a sumptuary good that originates from places distant to those known to have alliances with the Olmec site of La Venta.” The analysis made on the artifacts was compiled in the book: “The 4th Offering of La Venta, a treasure reunited in the Museum of National Anthropology." more...http://artdaily.com/news/67742/Recent-analysis-by-archaeologists-shows-that-the-Olmec-culture-expanded-as-far-as-Guatemala#.UxTVqIWwU2E[/url]
masculine individuals and a row of six slim axes that frame the scene. It’s the first time they have found physical evidence of the territorial expansion in an offering. “We found jade originating from the basin of the

6. MEXICO CITY.- "An important corpus of codices made more than 450 years ago, which make reference to tributes in Valle de Tlaquiltenango, known today as Morelos, were completely identified by the specialist Laura Hinojosa from the National Institute of Archaeology and History (INAH). The expert of the INAH Center in Morelos added that the codices, made between 1525 and 1569, are of great importance since there are only two others: Moctezuma’s codex and the Marquis del Valle’s codex. Also, the ones made in Tlaquiltenago were glued onto the cloister frieze underneath the del Valle or the encomenderos (grantees of the encomienda)”. Laura Hinojosa explained that Codex 1 was formed ..." more http://artdaily.com/news/67496/INAH-specialist-identifies-important-corpus-of-codices-made-more-than-450-years-ago#.UxSqZYWwU2E[/url]
convent, something rather atypical. “This situation possibly emanated from the fact that Franciscan friars, living during this epoch, wanted to protect the native legacy, or their need to hide it because these documents manifested that those in charge of the convent were also beneficiaries of the nearby villages’ offerings”, she indicated. The codices were divided in 1911 when the engineer Juan Reina, owner of the place, sold 135 fragments for 2,000 dollars to the Museum of Natural History in New York. These documents were elaborated by natives, and show the bestowed tributes. “We found annotations describing the offerings paid to the representatives of the temple, the Marquis

7. Antiquities and Archaeology News Egypt
"Egyptian pharaoh’s tomb discovered by American archaeologists
The important find is the burial site of Sobekhotep I, believed to be the first king of the 13th Dynasty
By Garry Shaw.
Published online: 06 January 2014
The tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh King Sobekhotep I, believed to be first king of the 13th Dynasty (1781BC-1650BC), has been discovered by a team from the University of Pennsylvania at Abydos in Middle Egypt, 500km south of Cairo.
Since new royal tombs are rarely discovered, and as only ten from the 13th Dynasty are known—all at Dahshur, just south of Cairo—this is an important find. King Sobekhotep I ruled for only about three years, at a time when Egypt was entering a period of decline. In fact, the chronological evidence for this period is so complex that scholars are still debating the order of the 13th Dynasty kings.
Sobekhotep I’s tomb was constructed from limestone brought from the Tura quarries near modern Cairo, while his burial chamber is made from red quartzite. The burial was originally topped by a pyramid. Among the further finds are a 60-ton quartzite sarcophagus, a stele bearing the name of the king, an image of Sobekhotep I enthroned, parts of the canopic jars that once contained the pharaohs internal organs, and funerary objects.
Excavation at the tomb is ongoing, though Egypt’s antiquities chief, Mohamed Ibrahim, hopes to open the site to the public, once the tomb has been restored.
This is not the only discovery of an ancient Egyptian site since the New Year. Working at Luxor, a team from Japan’s Waseda University uncovered the tomb of Khonsu-em-heb, an overseer of granaries and beer-brewers for the goddess Mut during the Ramesside Period (1298BC-1069BC). The tomb walls are painted with many beautiful scenes that illustrate religious ceremonies and show the tomb’s owner, Khonsu-em-heb, with his wife and daughter, who were both chantresses of Mut. The Japanese team uncovered the tomb while clearing the courtyard of another nearby burial site.
UPDATE, 15 January 2014: Another tomb, this time of a previously unknown pharaoh named Seneb-Kay, was also unearthed at Abydos, Egypt, by the same team from the University of Pennsylvania.
Although relatively small, and constructed from reused blocks dated to the Middle Kingdom (2066BC-1781BC), the tomb was originally richly equipped with gilded funerary equipment, fragments of which were found during excavation. The king's skeleton, canopic jars, fragments of the wooden coffin and cartonnage funerary mask, which was probably gilded and later stripped of its decoration by tomb robbers, were also found within.
Seneb-Kay appears to have ruled as a regional king at Abydos during Egypt's Second Intermediate Period (1781BC-1549BC), a time when central government power had broken down and the kingdom's unity had fragmented."

8. CAIRO (AFP).- "Archaeologists in Egypt have found a nearly 3,500-year-old statue of the daughter of pharaoh Amenhotep III in the famed temple city of Luxor, the antiquities ministry said on Friday. An Egyptian-European team uncovered the statue of princess Iset, 170 centimetres tall and 52 cm wide, during renovation work at the Amenhotep III mortuary temple on Luxor's western bank, antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim said in a statement. "The statue is part of a 14-metre-high (46-foot) alabaster sculpture of Amenhotep III that was at the entrance of the temple sanctuary," team head Dr Hourig Sourouzian said. The sculpture features the 18th Dynasty ruler on his throne, his neckless in her right hand. It is the first time a sculpture has been found that depicts the princess alone with her father: others show her with her two parents and her brothers, Sourouzian said. The statue of the princess "was eroded, especially the face", and the feet were missing, ministry official Ali El-Asfar said. The princess's name and her titles, among them "Love of her father", were carved on the statue, Asfar added. Luxor, a city of some 500,000 people on the banks of the Nile in southern Egypt, is an open-air museum of intricate temples and pharaonic tombs."  http://artdaily.com/news/68625/Egypt-dig-unearths-a-nearly-3-500-year-old-statue-of-the-daughter-of-pharaoh-Amenhotep-III#.Uxz3cIWwU2E[/url]
hands on his knees, his daughter standing between his legs, wearing a wig and a long tunic and holding a

9. MEXICO CITY.- "A shaman’s sculpture (represented with a long face and a weapon at hand), is the guardian of a shaft tomb discovered in the state of Colima by investigators of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), who recently became the first to see its interior after it had been closed for more than 1,500 years. With the fumaroles of the Fire Volcano as a background and underneath a plot of land in the municipality of Villa de Alvarez, the specialists from INAH are detailing the registry of this funerary space which was fortunately found intact, since shaft tombs are usually raided by looters because of the objects beauty within these, explained archaeologist Marco Zavaleta Lucido. The archaeologist added that the salvage in Villa de Alvarez, near a place with recently recovered adult burials in cists, where he recently lifted three flat stones that sealed the vertical entry to the shaft tomb. The underground space devastated by tepetate (a solid layer of volcanic rock) is distinct and earlier than the cist burials, dComala phase. Physical anthropologist Rosa Maria Flores Ramirez detailed that both sides of the vault have bones that to one or two individuals that must have been placed inside previously, and whom were removed to place another individual. The main burial was found in an inferior layer of the excavation, lying on his back. There is a theory that shaft tombs were used as homage to their ancestors, as well as where other characters from the same clan were deposited. The characters that were introduced into the recently opened shaft tomb were accompanied by a rich offering composed of: six pots (of different sizes) and a tecomate (earthenware bowl). However, the piece that has been distinguished among all others is the shaman figure at approximately half a meter tall (19.69 inches). Regularly, funerary spaces have been associated with the elite, since only they had the power and resources to make these types of constructions. Another status marking are the elements that were placed as offerings, including dogs as the soul’s guide to the underworld. The archaeological salvage has also been an opportunity for students and teachers at the University of Colima, who went to the site in order to draw up a 3D context." http://artdaily.com/news/68558/Mexican-archaeologists-find-a-1-500-year-old-shaft-tomb-in-the-state-of-Colima-#.Uxz9yoWwU2E[/url]


10. MEXICO CITY.- Fragments of human bones that show cuts and prolonged exposure to fire, have allowed investigators to conclude that during the Post Classic period (900 through 1521 AD) rulers, priests and some high ranking warriors practiced cannibalism as a religious rite. The findings are a
result of recent investigations by archaeologist Gabino Lopez Arenas on craniums, tibia, humerus and jaws located among the offerings of the Great Temple and in the surroundings of the historical center. Lopez Arenas explained that the osteological evidence found in the Sacred Grounds of Tenochtitlan, allows the conclusion that individuals were decapitated and dismembered, the majority of which still possessed bland tissue. “We observed that immediately after the victims were immolated their flesh was removed, this is confirmed because a great quantity of bones had cuts and alterations that were done while the bone was fresh and recently exposed to fire”, he assured. The specialist added that the practice of cannibalism had the purpose of “absorbing the divine strength that remained in the victim’s bodies: To Mexicas, the human victims were the incarnation of the gods they represented, and by eating their flesh they could share their divinity”. Art Daily