Archaeology Around the World - Spring 2014

1.CAIRO (AFP).- Egypt said Wednesday archaeologists have unearthed a 5,600-year-old preserved tomb and mummy predating the pharaonic First Dynasty, a discovery that will shed new light on the pre-dynastic era. The tomb was built before the rule of king Narmer, the founder of the First Dynasty who unified Upper and Lower Egypt in the 31th century BC, the antiquities ministry said in a statement. The tomb was discovered in the Kom al-Ahmar region, between Luxor and Aswan, on the site of ancient Hierakonpolis, the city of the falcon, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Upper Egypt. The archaeologists found an ivory statue of a bearded man and the mummy of the tomb's owner, who appeared to have died in his late teenage years, the ministry said. They also found 10 ivory combs as well as tools, ... More

2.BINANGONAN (AFP.- On a small rock wall a short drive from the Philippine capital, enigmatic carvings that are believed to date back 5,000 years are in danger of disappearing before their mysteries can be solved. The 127 engravings of people, animals and geometric shapes are the Southeast Asian nation's oldest known artworks, but encroaching urbanisation, vandals and the ravages of nature are growing threats. "Eventually they will disappear... preservation is out of the question," veteran anthropologist Jesus Peralta, who did an extensive and widely respected study of the carvings in the 1970s, told AFP. The artworks have been declared a national treasure, regarded as the best proof that relatively sophisticated societies existed in the Philippines in the Stone Age. "They show that in ancient times, the Philippines did have a complex culture. It's a recording of our
ancestors," said Leo ... More

WASHINGTON, DC.- Until Sept. 14, 2014, the National Geographic Museum will be home to a remarkable collection of ancient gold and silver artifacts excavated from Peru’s legendary royal tombs. “Peruvian Gold: Ancient Treasures Unearthed” showcases extraordinary objects from Peru’s pre-Inca heritage, including gold ceremonial and funerary masks, textiles, ceremonial ornaments, ceramics and jewelry. The centerpiece of the exhibition is El Tocado, the largest and most ornate pre-Columbian headdress ever discovered. The extraordinary gold headdress dates from the Middle Sican period (A.D. 900-1100). This is the first time it will be on display in the United States since it was unearthed in 1991.

Guest curated by National Geographic’s Archaeology Fellow Dr. Fredrik Hiebert, “Peruvian Gold” features iconic artifacts on loan from three Peruvian institutions: Sican National Museum, Larco Museum and Museum of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru. The exhibition continues National Geographic’s longstanding relationship with Peru, which began with National Geographic magazine’s coverage of Hiram Bingham’s excavation of Machu Picchu in 1911. The National Geographic Society has funded more than 180 grants related to exploratory field research in Peru since 1912, including 14 linked to excavations of royal tombs.

“National Geographic has been sharing the stories and the archaeology of ancient Peru for more than 100 years,” said Kathryn Keane, vice president of National Geographic Exhibitions. “This exhibition is an opportunity to walk into the pages of National Geographic magazine and see unique treasures from Peru’s golden past.” 

In addition to providing visitors with the opportunity to get up close and personal with stunning examples of ancient craftsmanship, the exhibit also explains how the artifacts reflect the customs, beliefs and ideals of the cultures that produced and utilized them. A map and timeline of Peru’s earliest civilizations serve as the starting point for museum visitors. The exhibition continues with the iconography, craftsmanship and ceremonial heritage of these complex societies.

The “Peruvian Gold” artifacts are organized thematically, with the first group emphasizing the importance of symbolism in Peruvian culture through intricate animal masks and impressive breastplates worn by dignitaries and priests. The exhibit goes on to highlight objects that illustrate ancient Peruvian craftsmanship, attire, rituals and even libations. From nose rings to gold feathers, the diverse selection of artifacts offers a sweeping view of the rich artistic culture of early Peru.

This exhibition is organized in partnership with the Irving Arts Center, Irving, Texas; the Peruvian Ministry of Culture; and the Embassy of Peru.

“Peru has a long history of cooperation and partnership with the National Geographic Society, which dates back to the early years of the institution,” said Harold Forsyth, Ambassador of Peru to the United States. “National Geographic has been involved in many of the most important Peruvian archaeological findings to date and has always been a dependable partner, managing to properly portray the image of Peru beyond its borders. We are thrilled that, through this exhibition, visitors will have the opportunity to cross a cultural bridge and understand why Peruvian culture still dazzles the world to this day.” National geographic

Note: The Irving Heritage Society held its latest meeting at the Irving Arts Center to announce a special exhibit that’s coming. The society invited Arts Center Executive Director Richard Huff to share news about “Peruvian Gold: Ancient Treasures Unearthed.” The exhibit of about 100 gold treasures dating from 1250 BC to 1450 AD will run from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31. Irving is one of only two venues in the nation for the exhibit. The other location is Washington, D.C., where admission prices will be much higher.
Huff presented a slideshow with more details and photos of some of the pieces. Organized by the National Geographic Society, the exhibit will provide a glimpse of ancient, complex civilizations where wealth and power flourished. Gold wasn’t valued as a commodity by Peruvians but instead was a symbol of status, power and eternity.
The collection, valued at from $3.5 to $5 million, will have 24-hour armed security.
Huff also said the center already has enough funds to cover the exhibit’s $1.4 million cost. He added admission will be minimal, “not more than it would cost a family of four to go to the movies.”
Also at the meeting, a dedicated member of the Heritage Society was recognized. Mary Higbie received a Community Builder Award from Irving Masonic Lodge No. 1218. The award honors local leaders who give of their time while following the ideals of the Masons. One of the Masons talked about Higbie’s background (she was a champion barrel racer in Iowa) and her long list of community service. Higbie accepted with gratitude, saying she always gets back more than she gives.


NEW YORK, NY.- On April 9, Doyle New York auctioned a rare and important Nebuchadnezzar II Babylonian cuneiform cylinder that set a world auction record for a Babylonian cylinder. The price of $605,000 achieved by Doyle New York far surpassed the prior record of £264,000 (approx. $440,000) set in London in 2011. The cylinder sold to a bidder participating on the telephone.

The clay cylinder describes the rebuilding of the temple of Shamash in Sippar (modern Tell Abu Habbah in Iraq) by Nebuchadnezzar II and dates to the Neo-Babylonian Period, circa 604-562 BC. At 8 1/4 inches (20.8 cm) in length, it is the largest example to come to market in recent times and was estimated at $300,000-500,000. In 1953, it was sold through Dawson’s of Los Angeles.

Nebuchadnezzar II was responsible for the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon in 587 BC. All of the ritual objects contained in the Temple, including the fabled Ark of the Covenant, were lost, and the Jewish population was carried away into captivity in Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar II is featured in the Bible’s Book of Daniel, and Psalm 137 laments the Babylonian Captivity.

In Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar II built the monumental Ishtar Gate, now reconstructed in Berlin’s Pergamon Museum, and the legendary Hanging Gardens, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

It was customary for the kings of Babylon to publicly cement their relationship with the gods by restoring their temples. These accomplishments were recorded in cuneiform writing on clay cylinders, which were buried in the foundations of the restored temples. These cylinders were enduring commemorations of the king's fealty to the gods, and they enhanced the appearance of legitimacy for the ruler with his subjects.

The most famous of these clay cylinders is the Cyrus Cylinder, named for the Persian King Cyrus the Great, who conquered Babylon in 540 BC and subsequently released the Jews from captivity. The Cyrus Cylinder was discovered in Babylon in 1879 and is now in the collection of the British Museum in London.  http://artdaily.com/