Archaeology Winter 2018

Aztec wolf.jpg

Archaeology
1. Mexico City Archaeologists excavating at the foot of the Aztecs’ Great Temple, in downtown Mexico City, discovered a dazzling collection of gold artifacts and the skeleton of a juvenile wolf. Occupying a stone box the size of a dishwasher, the gold artifacts are the finest yet excavated at the 40-year-old dig, says lead archaeologist Leonardo López Luján. They include ear and nose ornaments and a piece of body armor known as a pectoral—glittering, stylized versions of attire that were used to decorate the sacrificed wolf, as if the canine were symbolizing a human warrior. The wolf’s head faced west, signaling that it was “the companion of the sun, after the sunset, during its journey to the underworld,” says López Luján. The offering was buried during the reign of Ahuitzotl (1486–1502), a time of war and great imperial expansion for the Aztecs.
https://www.archaeology.org/issues/281-1801/features/6170-mexico-aztec-wolf-burial

Truck damages Peru's ancient Nazca lines.jpg

    2. Peru's ancient Nazca lines were damaged when a driver accidentally plowed his cargo truck into the fragile archaeological site in the desert, officials said Tuesday.The driver ignored warning signs as he entered the Nazca archaeological zone on January 27, the Ministry of Culture said in a statement.

    The truck "left deep prints in an area approximately 100 meters long," damaging "parts of three straight lined geoglyphs," the statement read.The lines, considered a UNESCO World Heritage site, are enormous drawings of animals and plants etched in the ground some 2,000 years ago by a pre-Inca civilization. They are best seen from the sky.Entering the area is strictly prohibited due to the fragility of the soil around the lines, and access is only allowed wearing special foam-covered foot gear, according to Peruvian authorities. The lines criss-cross the Peruvian desert over more than 500 square kilometers (200 square miles). Created between 500 BC and AD 500 by the Nazca people, they have long intrigued archaeologists with the mystery of their size and their meticulously drawn figures. Some of the drawings depict living creatures, others stylized plants or fantastical beings, others geometric figures that stretch for kilometers (miles).
http://artdaily.com/news/102139/Truck-damages-Peru-s-ancient-Nazca-lines#.WodgY-dG3IU

3. Experts discover hidden ancient Maya structures in Guatemala

    Experts using an aerial high-tech laser scanner have discovered thousands of ancient Maya structures hidden under the thick jungle of northern Guatemala, officials said Thursday.Some 60,000 structures were found over the past two years in a scan of a region in the northern department of El Peten, which borders Mexico and Belize, said Marcello Canuto, one of the project's top investigators. The new discoveries in this Central American country include urban centers with sidewalks, homes, terraces, ceremonial centers, irrigation canals and fortifications, said Canuto, an archaeologist at Tulane University in the United States.Among the finds was a 30-meter high pyramid that had been earlier identified as a natural hill in Tikal, Guatemala's premier archaeological site. Also discovered in Tikal: a series of pits and a 14 kilometer-long wall.The Maya civilization reached its height in what is present-day southern Mexico, Guatemala, and parts of Belize, El Salvador and Honduras between 250 and 950 CE.Researchers now believe that the Maya had a population of 10 million, which is "much higher" than previous estimates, Canuto said.The project relied on a remote sensing method known as LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). Aircraft with a LiDAR scanner produced three-dimensional maps of the surface by using light in the form of pulsed laser linked to a GPS system.
http://artdaily.com/news/102188/Experts-discover-hidden-ancient-Maya-structures-in-Guatemala#.Wodhm-dG3IU  

4.. Unique Knife That Belonged to Early Medieval Scribe Unearthed in Poland

A unique knife that belonged to an early medieval scribe has been discovered in the Pasym Castle located at Pasym, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, Poland.
The knife dated to the 8th or 9th century is the only such object known from Poland.
The similar objects originate from Great Britain, Frisia or Norway, according to archaeologists who carried out excavations in the early medieval fortified  Pasym settlement.
The knife is less than 10 cm in length and was found in a hearth inside a residential building.
What distinguishes the knife from other objects of this type, is the presence of two blades – a longer blade (measuring 42 mm) and a shorter one (measuring 27 mm), which could be used interchangeably.
Both blades were formed by cutting off the back, reports Science in Poland.

Scribe Knife Found in Poland.jpg

“This is the only Prussian settlement with such an early metric, it dates back to the VII-IX century” – said Dr. Sławomir Wadyl from the Institute of Archeology of the University of Warsaw, who conducted excavations at Pasym in cooperation with Kacper Martyka from the Museum of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn.

The knife is less than 10 cm in length and was found in a hearth inside a residential building. What distinguishes the knife from other objects of this type, is the presence of two blades – a longer blade (measuring 42 mm) and a shorter one (measuring 27 mm), which could be used interchangeably. Both blades were formed by cutting off the back, reports Science in Poland.

Knife discovered in Pasym medieval settlement. Photo credit: S. Wadyl
Knife discovered in Pasym medieval settlement. Photo credit: S. Wadyl

“No similar object has been found in Poland until now. The search for similar artefacts led us to the British Isles, where rotary knives are quite typical for this period. The objects discovered there, as well as in Frisia and Norway, are similar to our find,” said Dr. Wadyl, adding that it is  surprising that until now similar objects have not been found in the Polish lands, in the areas associated with either the Slavs or the Balts.

Researchers believe that knives of this type were used by scribes in their work. Two different precision blades could be used to create manuscripts – such tools are among the instruments frequently depicted in the images of scribes found on miniatures from the era.

“On this basis, we know that knives with a variety of blades accompanied all stages of manuscript creation: they were used to cut parchment, mark lines, control the shape of letters and erase mistakes” – says Dr. Wadyl.

With time, this kind of knife was probably adapted by other crafts that required precision, where the possibilities offered by knives with two different blades were extremely desirable.

“So they could be used for processing leather, wood or bones” – says the archaeologist. Evidence of antler processing was found within the building where the knife was discovered.

According to Wadyl, it is difficult to say whether the knife had been brought from Scandinavia or the British Isles, but the concept of its creation clearly indicates this origin. Less similar specimens of rotary knives have been discovered by archaeologists in Belarus and Estonia, but they are several hundred years younger than the one from Pasym.
http://www.ancientpages.com/2018/01/22/unique-knife-that-belonged-to-early-medieval-scribe-unearthed-n-poland/