Diyarbakır excavation reveals ancient tomb of young lovers


Archaeologists discovered the tomb of a young couple locked in an embrace during their work in Hakemi Use in the Bismil district of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on Saturday.


The young couple, archaeological history’s oldest buried lovers, was discovered by excavations in Bismil; they were still embracing one another.

 Archaeologists assert that the couple, who presumably died some 8,000 years ago, is likely to set a record as the oldest embracing couple in the history of archaeology. Diyarbakır was witness to an extraordinary discovery when archaeologists revealed the tomb of the couple near the township of Tepe in the district of Bismil. The shroud of mystery over the couple will be removed after anthropologists examine the skeletons.


The site at Hakemi Use, 70 kilometers east of Diyarbakır on the south bank of Tigris River, has been under excavation since 2001 by a team of archaeologists led by Halil Tekin of Hacettepe University. The team’s objective is to rescue artifacts at the site before the area is flooded by the Ilısu Dam. Salvage efforts were launched with the initiative of the government after the dam project was introduced in the region. The main site of excavation at Hakemi Use is a mound of 120 meters in diameter and four meters high dating from the Late Neolithic period.


The discovery of the tomb of the two lovers has sparked a wave of excitement among the team of archaeologists. Halil Tekin, head of the team, has indicated that the tomb is at least 1,000 years older than the one found last year in Verona, Italy. “The excavation work at the Hakemi Use site has been underway since 2001 with a group of archaeologists from Hacettepe University under the lead of the Diyarbakır Archeology and Ethnography Department. We have recently discovered a tomb bearing the skeletons of a 30-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman. The way they were buried signifies that they were lovers. An illness or even a crime of love may have been the cause of their death. We will learn much more about them after anthropologists in our university complete their examinations on the skeletons,” Tekin was quoted as saying by the state-run Anatolia news agency.



Orkney arrowheads find points to Scotland's earliest settlement



THEY may look like just a collection of broken stones, but the finds made in a field in Orkney might be evidence of the earliest settlement in Scotland.


Two flint "tanged points" or arrowheads found on the island of Stronsay are thought to have been used by hunters between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago, just after the Ice Age.


The arrowheads were found among a collection of scattered artefacts, including bladed tools, on a farm by Naomi Woodward and a team of MA students on an archaeology course at Orkney College. The discoveries were made during a two-week research trip in April, but have just been made public.


Two points from the late upper Paleolithic period (13-10,000BC) had previously been found in Orkney, at Ness of Brodgar, and on Stronsay - but both were lost in the 1920s.


Ms Woodward said: "I had been out there a couple of times and the landscape for archaeology is quite minimal compared to the rest of Orkney; not a lot has been made of it.


"The tanged flint points are signs of a very early archaeology, which at this moment is not particularly understood in Orkney or Scotland.


"They are probably hunting implements, most likely mounted and used as projectile points.


"We think they could be early Mesolithic or late Paleolithic, so maybe from 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.


"It would be just after the Ice Age and there have been European examples of these kind of points."


In 2001, a team from an Edinburgh University project called Scotland's First Settlers confirmed that a shell midden found at Sand, near Applecross in Wester Ross, was used 9,500 years ago, making the site one of the earliest dated human occupations in Scotland.


An encampment at Cramond, near Edinburgh, has also been dated to 8,500BC.


It is also known that settlements of people were established in the west of Scotland around this time from discoveries at another site, at Kinloch on the island of Rum.


Ms Woodward is reluctant to claim that the Stronsay site is the earliest, but said: "If we have a site that these items are found in context, then it could be.


"But, at the moment, they are only surface finds - although it seems we have an assemblage of pieces from individual chance finds that relate to each other.


"The next step now is to see if we have actually got a site beneath this."



Stone Age site surfaces after 8,000 years - 03/08/07


Excavations of an underwater Stone Age archaeological settlement dating back 8000 years took place at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton between 30 July – 3 August 2007.

[Stone Age site surfaces after 8,000 years - 03/08/07]


Maritime archaeologists from the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology (HWTMA) have been working at the site just off the Isle of Wight coast. Divers working at depths of 11 metres have raised sections of the seabed, which have been brought to the NOCS laboratories for excavation.


Garry Momber, Director of HWTMA said: ‘This is a site of international importance as it reveals a time before the English Channel existed when Europe and Britain were linked. Earlier excavations have produced flint tools, pristine 8,000-year-old organic material such as acorns, charcoal and worked pieces of wood showing evidence of extensive human activity. This is the only site of its kind in Britain and is extremely important to our understanding of our Stone Age ancestors from the lesser-known Mesolithic period.


‘At first we had no idea of the size of this site, but now we are finding evidence of hearths and ovens so it appears to be an extensive settlement. We are hoping that this excavation will reveal more artefacts and clues to life in the Stone Age.’


The team of archaeologists will painstakingly excavate through the layers of sediment in the sections taken to the NOCS laboratories, revealing materials that have lain unseen beneath the seabed for over 8,000 years. Garry Momber has recruited students from NOCS as well as the University of Southampton to help with the work.



Archaeologists stumble on sensational find

4 October 2007 | 14:17 | Source: Beta

Prokuplje -- Serbian archaeologists found evidence of what could be the oldest metal workshop in all of Europe.


According to National Museum archaeologist Dušan Šljivar, experts found a “copper chisel and stone ax at a location near Prokuplje in which the foundation has proven to be 7,500 years old, leading us to believe that it was one of the first places in which metal weapons and tools were made in prehistoric times.”


Archaeologists hope that this find in southern Serbia will prove the theory that the metal age began a lot earlier than it was believed to have, Šljivar told Beta news agency. He leads the team of archaeologists that have been investigating the site over the past decade.


Šljivar said that this finding, along with 40 similarly valuable ones before it, among which there were more parts of metal tools and weapons, as well as a smelter and furnace, prove that people inhabiting this territory began working with metal more than 5,000 years before the new era.


Prokuplje Museum archaeologist Julka Kuzmanović-Cvetković said that the site “shows that the people living on our territory started a civilization that presented the basics of the technological revolution.”


“We want to prove that the site was a metal works center in the central part of the Balkans,” she said.


The Ministry of Culture has set aside some EUR 12,500 for this year's excavation at the site near Prokuplje, called Pločnik.


Šljivar said that these funds have enabled experts to investigate with more detail the 25 square meters and find new specimens.


Pločnik was uncovered accidentally in 1927 while the Niš-Priština railway was built and has been actively investigated with great interest since 1996 by Serbian and international experts.



Ancient world treasure unearthed

By David Willey

BBC News, Rome


After seven hot summers of digging, an Italian archaeological team believe they have discovered one of the most important sites of the ancient world.


Fanum Voltumnae, a shrine, marketplace and Etruscan political centre, was situated in the upper part of the Tiber river valley.


It lies at the foot of a huge outcrop of rock, upon which is perched the mediaeval city of Orvieto.


A walled sanctuary area, 5m-wide (16ft) Etruscan roads, an altar, and the foundations of many Roman buildings that have laid buried for two millennia have been discovered.


And as the dig closed for the 2007 season, with tarpaulins being pulled over ruins to protect them from the winter weather, Professor Simonetta Stopponi of Macerata University was upbeat about the site's significance.


"I am confident that for the first time we have positively identified one of the most important lost sites of the ancient world," she told the BBC.


Fanum was already famous in antiquity as a religious shrine and a meeting place where the 12 members of the Etruscan League, a confederation of central Italian cities, used to gather every spring to elect their leader.


In the autumn of 398BC an extraordinary policy meeting was held in Fanum.


A Roman army had been besieging the town of Veii, a wealthy member of the Etruscan League, which lay only 16km (10 miles) north of Rome.


The citizens of Veii, exhausted by years of warfare, appealed for help and asked the other members of the league to join them in declaring war on Rome.


The gods of the shrine of Fanum were duly consulted, but the vote went against collectively defending Veii.


Two years later the town fell to Rome.


It was the beginning of the end for the Etruscan League, all of whose cities eventually fell to Roman invaders.


We know all this ancient history through the Roman historian Livy, who wrote his famous account of the origins of Rome towards the end of the 1st Century BC.



Livy mentions Fanum, and stresses its importance no less than five times.


But he failed to mention where Fanum was situated, and after the fall of Rome, all memory of its exact location was lost.


The sacred zone is being systematically dug up by an enthusiastic team of young archaeologists wielding picks, shovels and trowels.


They come from America, Mexico and Spain as well as from Italy.


For 2,000 years, from the 5th Century BC until the 15th Century AD, large numbers of people used to gather at Fanum every spring.


In Etruscan times it was a place for the political leaders of central Italy to take stock of military and civil affairs, and to pray to their gods.


Later, under the Romans, according to researchers, Fanum continued as the site of an important annual spring fair.


Athletes took part in public games, and priests and politicians mingled with crowds of ordinary people who came to buy and sell livestock and agricultural products.


As recently as the 19th Century there was a cattle market held here. The area is still known locally as Campo della Fiera, or Fair Field.


A first Christian church was built on the site as early as the 4th Century. You can see part of its patterned stonework floor.


The foundations of a later 12th Century church dedicated to Saint Peter have also been laid bare.


Following the Black Death, the 14th Century plague, and perhaps because of it, the church was abandoned and left to ruins.


Funds for the dig have come in part from an Italian bank, the Monte Dei Paschi of Siena, in part from the EU, and in part from the local regional government.


Absolute certainty that this was the site of Fanum can only come with the discovery of written inscriptions dedicated to the Etruscan god Voltumna, the most important deity worshipped by the inhabitants of this part of Italy.


So far only votive objects such as small bronze statues, or pieces of painted terracotta roof tiles from the temples have been dug up, nothing written.


But Professor Stoppani says she is 99% sure that the site has yet to give up the last remains of ancient Fanum.


She plans to continue the dig next year.



Underwater archaeologists find mediaeval artefacts in German lake

Posted : Fri, 05 Oct 2007 08:39:03 GMT


Arendsee, Germany - Archaeologists have made significant mediaeval finds in the northern German lake, the Arendsee, that reveal fishing activities linked to a nearby monastery. Speaking before the 14th annual meeting this weekend of European underwater archaeologists at the lake, Rosemarie Leineweber of the monuments and archaeology office of the state of Saxony-Anhalt noted in particular the discovery of a dugout.


"We estimate that the dugout dates back to the end of the 14th century and that fishermen used it to provide fish for a Benedictine convent," Leineweber said.


Archaeologists, with the aid of the local underwater diving club, have been researching the lake - at 30 metres one of the deepest in this part of Germany - since 2004.


They have found several vessels, as well as a fence-like construction for catching fish dated to the Stone Age.


The dugout has been removed from the lake and treated to conserve it.


The diving teams have also found a "Prahm" - a shallow-draught vessel used in the inland waters of north-western Europe to transport people and goods.


The Prahm, which measures 13 metres and has been dated to the 13th century, is thought to be unique to the region.


"Probably the Prahm was used to transport the convent residents, or possibly building material for the convent," Leineweber said. The vessel has not yet been raised.


Another significant find is the fence for catching fish. "The construction dates back to the years 2500 to 2700 before our era and is in excellent condition," Leineweber said.




Stalag Luft III's 'Great Escape' tunnels revealed

Aerial photographs together with magnetometry and ground-penetrating radar have been used to locate the original Tom, Dick and Harry tunnels, later immortalised in the The Great Escape

Norman Hammond

Archaeology Correspondent


The archaeology of warfare has a long history, and now includes the study of bullets scatter across battlefields, such as the Little Big Horn and Naseby, the airfields and aircraft of the Battle of Britain and, more recently, the hardware of the Cold War. However, a new area of discovery has been opened up in the investigation of a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp and attempts to escape from it during the Second World War.


The camp is question is the famous Stalag Luft III, the site of such notorious escape episodes as those immortalised in the film The Wooden Horse, from Eric Williams’s book, and the mass breakout described in Paul Brickhill’s The Great Escape, when 76 RAF men got away, only for most of them to be murdered by the Gestapo on recapture.


Stalag Luft III was a Sonderlager for persistent escapees, and lay southeast of Berlin in what is now Poland, “as far from neutral and Allied forces countries as possible”, Dr J. K.Pringle and his colleagues note in Geoarchaeology. It was steadily enlarged as increasing numbers of prisoners of war (PoWs) arrived, with regular rows of huts enclosed by high fences, listening devices and guard towers.


There were persistent attempts to tunnel out of the camp, although the yellow sand of the subsoil stood out garishly against the grey Silesian earth and made the spoil from such efforts easy to detect by the guards. Williams’s The Wooden Horse describes how the sand brought up inside the vaulting horse which covered the tunnel opening was scattered thinly from trouser bags as the PoWs wandered nonchalantly around the compound treading it in.


Dr Pringle’s team concentrated on three tunnels in particular, nicknamed Tom, Dick, and Harry by the escape committee headed by Squadron Leader Roger Bushell, known as Big X. Tom was discovered and destroyed by the Germans in 1943, following which work on Dick was discontinued and all the effort put into Harry, the longest of all, used for the Great Escape of March 23-24, 1944.


The Russians used Stalag Luft III briefly to hold German PoWs in 1945, and then the site was systematically looted for any useful materials. “As a result, only the huts’ piers and washroom floors survive,” the team say. “In addition the entire camp location has returned to forest and is covered by young fir trees.”


Three surviving PoWs from the camp — Major-General David Jones, who had been a “digger”, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Huppert, and Squadron Leader “Jimmy” James — an escaper — accompanied the team to their former lodgings to help to locate the huts and buried tunnels. Soviet and Polish maps and aerial photographs were utilised to construct the first map of Stalag Luft III since it was built. Magnetometry and ground-penetrating radar were used to locate buried tunnels, and variation in hut details such as the shifting position of washrooms showed how the Germans altered their designs from phase to phase.


Hut 122, from which Dick had begun, was eventually located and an excavation on its western side found the tunnel about 10m (33ft) down. The remains of bedboards, made into frames to shore the sandy walls of the tunnel, were found, together with corroded Klim powdered milk tins, which were strung together to create ventilation lines underground. Even the concrete slab that had covered the deep entrance shaft was still there, with a rusted iron hook used to pull it up for the diggers to go down.


Escapers’ gear was recovered and identified by the former PoWs, including a lamp made from a Red Cross parcel cheese tin, a watercolour paint set, and a rubber boot heel cut into a Wehrmacht eagle stamp, both used for faking documents. “Remains of a wire-bound attaché case containing a civilian-style coat, buttons, thread, a toothbrush and case, and fragments of a German language book were found within the tunnel’s entrance shaft,” the team report. The artefacts have been given to the local museum commemorating the prisoners and those murdered.


“The site of Stalag Luft III offers considerable potential for future investigations: it is estimated that over 100 tunnels were dug there during World War II,” they say, noting that Tom may partly survive underground, along with Harry and George, dug for a mass breakout in case of German reprisals on the prisoners after the Great Escape. The Wooden Horse tunnel in the eastern compound may also survive from 1943: its three escapers were among the most successful morale-boosters for those that remained, and plotted their own exits.


Geoarchaeology 22: 729-46