ARCHAEOLOGY - Christmas 2015

1. GENEVA (AFP).- A Swiss fruit-and-vegetable farmer stumbled across more than tree roots when inspecting his cherry orchard recently, uncovering a massive trove of coins buried some 1,700 years earlier, archeologists said Thursday. More Information: http://artdaily.com/news/83036/Trove-of-antique-Roman-coins-found-in-Swiss-orchard#.VlOm1t-rT2Q

2. LONDON A trove of stone artifacts uncovered in northwestern Kenya suggests human ancestors were crafting tools 3.3 million years ago—about 700,000 years earlier than previously thought.The tools, described at the Paleoanthropology Society’s meeting in San Francisco this week, are in the form of flakes—sharp stone fragments that could be used for cutting, as well as the cores from which flakes were struck, and anvils, used to hold the cores during the knapping process. Overall, more than 130 artifacts have been recovered from the site, called Lomekwi 3, said Stony Brook University
archaeologist Sonia Harmand, and some of them are quite large, weighing more than 30 pounds.The origin of tool-making is long-thought to begin only with the appearance of the genus Homo in the fossil record. But the oldest Homo fossils now known are about 2.8 million years old—half a million years younger than the newly announced artifacts from Kenya. This suggests that either ancient australopithecines like “Lucy” had developed stone tool use...More information http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/04/150416-oil-fish-hearts-spill-tuna-gulf-bp-deepwater-exxon-alaska/150416-oldest-stone-tools-archaeology-kenya-human-origins-evolution/


3. GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA—Marcello A. Canuto of Tulane University and Tomás Barrientos of the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala announced at a press conference the discovery of a fifth-century stela at the Maya site of El Achiotal, located to the east of La Corona. “This stela portrays an early king during one of the more poorly understood periods of ancient Maya history,”
Canuto said in a press release. Graduate student Luke Auld-Thomas found fragments of the stela in a shrine that had been built for it during a time of political upheaval in the central Maya area. The archaeologists, who are part of the La Corona Regional Archaeological Project in Guatemala, also uncovered two hieroglyphic panels in a corner room at La Corona’s palace. These texts, which tell of rituals.. MOre Information http://www.archaeology.org/news/3514-150727-guatemala-stela-hieroglyphs

4. CHACO CANYON NEW MEXICO - In the prehistoric American Southwest, trade with distant Mesoamerica was a source of power and prestige that could make or break a ruler. Within the massive multistory buildings at New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon, for instance, archaeologists have discovered exotic goods from Mexico, such as cacao and the remains of 33 scarlet macaws, whose natural habitat is 1,000 miles away on the Gulf of Mexico. Scholars had assumed that long-distance trade became important only during the period when Chaco’s power was greatest, from A.D. 1040 to 1110. But now a team has dated the macaw bones and found that some were imported as early as A.D. 900... More Information http://www.archaeology.org/issues/188-1509/trenches/3572-trenches-ancient-southwest-early-parrots.

5. PQUIME CASAS GRANDES, MEXICO In the northwestern part of the federal state of Chihuahua, west of the old Camino Real between El Paso and the state capital Chihuahua, lies Casas Grandes with its famous excavation site Paquimé. The large, archeologically interesting area at the foot of the Sierra Madre Occidental covers more than 60 hectares (about 150 acres) on the west bank of the Casas Grandes River. So far only 10 hectares (25 acres) of the historically very important place have been excavated and secured. The remains of the settlement are still impressive.
Several buildings, which consisted of up to 600 rooms, were constructed from tamped clay using the toilsome hand-molding technique: Wet clay was manually applied to an existing clay layer and spread equally. Interestingly, the buildings had rectangular walls, a fact that is indicative of intense planning and is a remarkable difference from buildings erected in other civilizations at the same time. Water was led through the rooms in open channels. Also characteristic of the buildings were T-shaped doorways between the rooms. The buildings enclosed large courts for games or meetings. There were subterranean religious convention halls and walk-in wells. You can still see the remains of firm market stands and the houses for parrots, imported from South America, and turkeys. In Paquimé, pit houses – pits in the ground with a primitive roof – define the origin of new building techniques that began to soar in the 7th century AD. Over some centuries, the simple pit houses.“I was very much surprised,” says American Museum of Natural History archaeologist Adam Watson, who helped organize the dating. “I, along with everyone else, assumed the trade networks with Mexico didn’t become important until Chaco expanded. Now we have evidence that control over trade and political power were being consolidated long before then.”    ....More Information.. http://www.nativetrails.de/index.php?id=86&L=1

6. PAQUIME CASAS GRANDES MEXICO THROUGHOUT HISTORY, ANIMALS HAVE BEEN UTILIZED AND DOMESTICATED FOR FOOD, LABOR, AND OCCASIONALLY FOR COMPANIONSHIP. It is a rare thing when animals are utilized for divination, or worshipped in a godly state (some examples would be the famous royal cats of ancient egypt, or sacred cows in India). In the desert southwest of the United States, however, macaws were revered and used as part of religious ceremonies. In the New World, macaws have played an important role in myth and culture for thousands of years. Archaeological and ethnographic evidence of the interaction between humans and these unique birds exists not only in shared environments, like the jungles of the Amazon and Central America, but also in more distant places where the macaws are not native.  In the southwest, egg shells, skeletal remains and macaw imagery on ceramics have been recovered at archaeological sites. This suggests the important role macaws played as exotic trade items and as objects of veneration.When the Spanish first arrived in the southwest in the 16th century, they
recorded feather trade and the keeping of macaws among Pueblo peoples (Hodge and Lewis 1907:106; Schroeder 1968:98-99). As evidenced by Lyndon Hargrove (1970), macaw skeletal remains make their appearance in the American Southwest by 1000 AD. Most significant are the remains of the scarlet macaw (Ara macao) whose native habitat only extends from the jungles of South America into lowland Mexico. The presence of scarlet macaws in the desert southwest illustrates the importance of trade in exotica between the cultures of the southwest and Mexico. The earliest macaw feathers that have been recovered in this region date back to 750 A.D.  These feathers indicate the start of a large trade network between the southwestern cultures and Central Mexico.  Turquoise from New Mexico and Arizona have been found in Mexico, while marine shells from the Sea of Cortez, copper bells, and cacao from Central Mexico have been recovered in the southwest. More Information..http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/april-2011/article/prehistoric-macaws-of-the-american-southwest

7. CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA—A piece of red, glossy pottery found in the rugged highlands of Papua New Guinea has been shown to be the oldest-known pottery in New Guinea. Tim Denham of Australian National University, working with researchers from Otago University, obtained precise dates for the pottery as part of a study to learn more about how the technology spread throughout the Pacific. People who lived on the coast of Papua New Guinea would have had contact with seafaring, pottery-making cultures such as the Lapita people. “It’s an example of how technology spread among cultures. Some pottery must have soon found its way into the highlands, which inspired the highlanders to try making it themselves,” Denham said in a press release. “And it shows human history is not always a smooth progression—later on pottery making was abandoned across most of the highlands of New Guinea. No one knows when or why,” he said. To read about smoked mummies in Papua New Guinea, go to the current issue's "World Roundup." More information.. http://www.archaeology.org/news/3664-150903-pottery-papua-new-guinea

8. ISRAEL An 8-year-old Israeli boy on a hike with his family at Tel Beit Shemesh — an ancient city mentioned repeatedly in the Bible — found a small, round ceramic object that he later learned held important archaeological significance.It turns out the figurine Itai Halperin picked up last weekend was a 3,000-year-old ceramic head depicting a fertility goddess often found in homes in the Kingdom of Judah during the First Temple period, Israel Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday.Itai Halperin, 8, holds the First Temple-era figurine he found while he was hiking with his family at an archaeological site. (Image source: Israel Antiquities Authority/Arik Halperin)/ An 8-year-old Israeli boy on a hike with his family at Tel Beit Shemesh — an ancient city mentioned repeatedly in the
Bible — found a small, round ceramic object that he later learned held important archaeological significance.It turns out the figurine Itai Halperin picked up last weekend was a 3,000-year-old ceramic head depicting a fertility goddess often found in homes in the Kingdom of Judah during the First Temple period, Israel Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday.Itai Halperin, 8, holds the First Temple-era figurine he found while he was hiking with his family at an archaeological site. (Image source: Israel Antiquities Authority/Arik Halperin) Itai Halperin, 8, holds the First Temple-era figurine he found while he was hiking with his family at an archaeological site. (Image source: Israel Antiquities Authority/Arik Halperin) “Figurines such as these, in the shape of naked women representing fertility, were common in the homes of the residents of the Judean Kingdom in the 8th century BCE and until the destruction of the kingdom by the Babylonians in the days of Zedekiah (in 586 BCE),” the authority’s Iron Age specialist, Alon De Groot, said in a statement, using an alternate designation for B.C. “It’s no coincidence that a statuette like this was found atop Tel Beit Shemesh next to a residential quarter from the First Temple period,” Anna Eirich of the Antiquities Authority said in a statement. “Beit Shemesh is mentioned as a city in the area of the Tribe of Judah.” Eirich explained that during the First Temple period, Beit Shemesh, west of Jerusalem, was a large walled-city that served as a commercial and industrial center. “Assyrian King Sennacherib sacked Beit Shemesh in 701 BCE, and the destruction of the area was completed in 86 BCE by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar,” Eirich added. To express its thanks for Halperin turning over the find, the Antiquities Authority gave the boy a good citizenship award and invited his elementary school class on an archaeological dig.The boy told the antiquities experts he had recently seen an Indiana Jones film which inspired him....More http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/11/26/8-year-old-boy-on-family-hike-makes-3000-year-old-discovery-dating-to-biblical-first-temple-period/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Firewire%20-%20HORIZON%2011-26-15%20FINAL-Thanksgiving&utm_term=Firewire

9. LUXOR (AFP).- Scans of King Tutankhamun's tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings point to a secret chamber, archaeologists said Saturday, possibly heralding the discovery of Queen Nefertiti's long-sought mummy. Using hi-tech infrared and radar technology, researchers are trying to unravel the mystery over the legendary monarch's resting place. A wife of Tutankhamun's father Akhenaten, Nefertiti played a major political and religious role in the 14th century BC, and the discovery of her tomb would be a major prize for Egyptologists. Experts are now "approximately 90 percent" sure
there is a hidden chamber in Tutankhamun's tomb, Antiquities Minister Mamduh al-Damati told a news conference. The scans were spurred by a study by renowned British archaeologist Nicholas Reeves that said Nefertiti's lost tomb may be hidden in an adjoining chamber. Speaking at the same press conference, Reeves said the initial results could bear out his theory. "Clearly it does look from the radar ... More http://artdaily.com/news/83282/Scans-point-to-hidden-chamber-possibly-heralding-discovery-of-Queen-Nefertiti-s-mummy