Eastern Porch of Darius' Palace Discovered in Bolaghi Gorge

Mar 5, 2007


In continuation of their excavations in area number 34 of the historic site of Bolaghi Gorge where evidence of a palace denoted to Achaemenid Emperor Darius the Great (549-486 BC) had previously been discovered, Iranian and French archeologists succeeded in discovering the eastern porch of the palace.


Announcing this news, Mohammad Taghi Atayi, Iranian head of the Iranian-French archeology team told CHN: "A black cubic plinth was discovered during the first days of excavations in the area which was later found to have been built by stones obtained from Majdabad query."


According to Atayi, three meters from the place where this plinth was unearthed, another pillar base was found which was very similar to the first one. Since this pillar base was discovered at the opposite site from the western porch, it is believed that it must have belonged to the eastern porch, constructed symmetric to the western one. "Since the western porch was four-columned, we were expecting to find four pedestals in the eastern one as well; however, we found out that the eastern porch, which has a dimension of 9x6 meters, was constructed with two columns with two small chambers in place of the other two pillars, making the palace look like those of the historic site of Pasargadae," explained Atayi.


Prior to this and during the first season of excavations in area number 34 of Bolaghi Gorge, archeologists had succeeded in discovery of a round black pedestal with the design of an inverted lotus flower carved around. This pedestal was supposed to have belonged to the eastern porch of the palace; however, the idea was rejected after the new discovery since the newly found pillar base has a cubic shape and exhibits no similarity to the one found earlier.


Some of the palace's pedestals have been moved from their original places due to activities of bulldozers in the area, something that has made it difficult for archeologists to decide which part of the palace any of these pedestal mush have belonged to.


"We assume that the black round pedestal might have belonged to another part of the palace, most probably the central hall. Still we hope to find the original place of the pedestal by finding more similar pedestals in the area during our excavations," said Atayi.


Head of the excavation team in area number 34 of Bolaghi Gorge further explained that three kinds of pedestal have so far been unearthed in the area including the black and white cubic plinths in the western porch, the cubic black plinths found in the eastern porch, and the round one with the design of an inverted lotus flower possibly belonging to the central hall.


Discovery of pieces of bricks, 45x33 centimeters in size which are bigger than standard bricks used in other Achaemenid structures are among the other discoveries in area number 34 of Bolaghi Gorge. "Discovery of these bricks is somehow strange and shows that might not have been used in the walls and most probably were used for flooring the palace," explained Atayi.


Regarding other archeological achievements in the area, Atayi said: "A raised platform constructed with rubbles has also been discovered during this season of archeological excavations in the area. This raised platform was constructed in front of the eastern porch and just like the plan used in the western porch, it is built in the northeast direction."


According to Atayi, the discovered palace is rectangular in shape. He further said that archeologists have not yet succeeded to reach to the main floor; however, it is expected that the height of this part of the palace which was luckily not destroyed by bulldozers must have been 1.5 meters, 80 centimeters of which has so far been unearthed.


Excavations by the team of Irano-Franch archeologists are directed by Mohammad Taghi Atayi from Iran's Archeology Research Center and Remy Boucharlat from the French Institute of Archeology. The team's most stunning discovery was that of the gigantic palace, believed to have belonged to Darius the Great.


© Iranian.ws



Catacomb found at Se Cathedral



OLD GOA, MARCH 10 — A routine work unearthed an unusual find, when workers of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Goa circle stumbled upon an age-old catacomb at the Se Cathedral in Old Goa.


According to sources, the workers were carrying out work of underground laying of cables inside the Se Cathedral and in the process, had damaged tombstones with engravings and inscriptions.

According to Se Cathedral Parish Priest Fr Leonardo Correia, workers were removing a tombstone at the chapel of St Bernard on the right hand side of the Cathedral, when they stumbled upon a 4 by 3 feet opening.

Two workers present at the site said they had found some human bones in the catacomb, which is believed to be over seven feet deep. A staircase was also faintly visible in the catacomb.

Commenting on the unusual find, Fr Moreno de Souza of the Bom Jesus Basilica said that the historical find in the cathedral could be a catacomb, where Portuguese viceroys, governors or bishops may have been buried in the past.

He informed that it was a practice in the Catholic Church in the past to build a church or a chapel over a cemetery or over the grave of a martyr and dedicate it to him.

Meanwhile, Fr Correia informed that the ASI carries out work in the cathedral without even informing him.

“They told me that the ongoing work would be completed by March 20 only after I approached them,” said Fr Correia.  

Church officials also voiced displeasure with the workers for breaking the tombstone into two pieces, with one piece falling into the catacomb. None of the ASI officials were around at that time to elicit their views.



March 06, 2007


First-Ever Dwelling Mound Found in Germany


A 7,000-year-old dwelling mound has been found in Germany, causing a stir among archaeologists. It is the first find of its kind in Western Europe.


A room with a view has always been a coveted thing. Over the millennia, humans discovered that it could be achieved by simply staying put over generations and not picking up the garbage. By building and rebuilding on the rubble of their own architectural remains, sedentary humans managed to achieve an impressive height.


The result of this process, known to archaeologists as a dwelling mound, is most commonly associated with the Middle East; in Iraq, the structures reach a height of 40 meters. They are also known in the Balkans and South America, but not in Germany -- at least until now.


Hence the discovery of a dwelling mound near Oberröblingen in Saxony-Anhalt has caused something of a stir in the German archaeological establishment. Thought to be 7,000 years old, the oval-shaped mound, which is roughly 100 meters long, 60 meters wide and 1.8 meters high, consists of the clay remains of centuries of previous structures.


"This is a unique find in Germany," Robert Ganslmeier of the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle told the news agency DPA. "People have been living and building here since the early Stone Age."


Discovered during highway construction work, the mound is now the site of harried archaeological activity. "We don't have any time to lose," says Ganslmeier. "The bridge builders are breathing down our necks."


The archaeologists believe that various rituals took place on the mound, including sacrifices. "We found two beheaded young people and next to them, the fragmented skeleton of a horse, minus skull and hind legs," explains Ganslmeier. Dog skulls and the remains of a calf were also found. One of the young people was wearing a bone bracelet, and the animal skeletons were surrounded by ceramic vessels. "Either these people were sacrificed or executed," says Ganslmeier.


For unknown reasons, the mound was abandoned about 5,500 years ago, Ganslmeier explains. "3,000 years ago, people of the late Bronze Age came and re-occupied it for another 300 years."


It's pure coincidence that the mound has been so well preserved. The recent diversion of a nearby river spared it from erosion. Ganslmeier believes there could well be more dwelling mounds in Germany, "but they'll be hard to find."



Experts reveal 'ancient massacre'


Bones found at a prehistoric burial site indicate they belonged to victims of an ancient massacre, say scientists.


Remains of 14 people were discovered at Wayland's Smithy, near Uffington White Horse, Oxfordshire, in the 1960s.


Latest techniques date the bones at between 3590 BC and 3560 BC, and have led experts to believe the people may have died in a Neolithic Age massacre.


English Heritage carried out the work with the help of Cardiff University and the University of Central Lancashire.


Michael Wysocki of the University of Central Lancashire says the findings suggest the Neolithic Age was more violent than previously thought.


The victims - three of them probably killed by arrows - could have died in a rush for land or livestock, he added.


He said: "We know one person was shot through the lower abdomen because we have found the tiny tip of a flint arrowhead embedded in their pelvic bone.


"We also know that the bodies of two people were scavenged and partially dismembered by dogs or wolves before their remains were buried in the monument.


"All this new evidence suggests that the period between 3625 BC and 3590 BC may have been one of increasing social tension and upheaval."


The research also indicates that the use of Neolithic long barrows was short-lived - and did not take place over hundreds of years as previously thought.


English Heritage radiocarbon dating expert Alex Bayliss said: "With this research, we can now think about the Neolithic period in terms of individuals and communities and make useful and revealing comparisons between their choices and behaviour in the remote past.


"This dating programme demands a revolution in our thinking about prehistory and not just that of early Neolithic burial monuments in southern Britain."



Roman clues found at ancient hill


Archaeologists have found traces of a Roman settlement at a 5,000-year-old landmark man-made hill in Wiltshire.


English Heritage believes there was a Roman community at Silbury Hill about 2,000 years ago.


The 130ft Neolithic mound near Avebury - one of Europe's largest prehistoric monuments - is thought to have been created some 3,000 years earlier.


Experts carrying out a project to stabilise the hill say the site may have been a sacred place of pilgrimage.


English Heritage geophysicist Dr Neil Linford said: "We are really excited by this discovery because we had no idea that a Roman village of such a size lay this close to Silbury Hill."


The evidence suggests the Roman community was based on an area the size of 24 football pitches at the base of the hill.


The find was made using caesium magnetometers which can detect changes in the ground's magnetic field caused by human activity.


The settlement was on the road from London to Bath, which is the modern-day A4, where it crossed the Winterbourne river.


English Heritage regional director Dr Bob Bewley says it will be "exciting" to try to find out more about the Roman presence.


"Without further investigation it is difficult to say, but it could be that what we have here is something like a roadside village, where Roman travellers would have changed horses and stayed overnight on the way to Bath, but also a place of pilgrimage focused on the hill," he said.


Mystery surrounds why the hill, where stabilisation work will take place from May to September, was built in the first place.


Heavy rains in May 2000 caused substantial damage to the hill, with the collapse of an 18th century shaft.



What lies beneath...

By Waseem Mirza


Evidence of an ancient settlement - complete with skeletal remains - has been found buried beneath Oakington recreation ground.


A 1,500-year-old pagan Saxon burial site has been unearthed by archaeologists working at Oakington recreation ground.


A team of over ten experts has been busy uncovering the remains from the Anglo Saxon era.


They have already discovered a female burial site complete with a neck brooch found on the skeletal remains of a young female. A belt buckle and what the excavators describe as "possibly some leather" have also been uncovered. Material such as leather has only managed to survive this long because the grave site is waterlogged.


The team has also unearthed a small crucifix - half the size of a palm. All items will be analysed further to reveal their hidden past.


Stephen Macaulay from Cambridgeshire County Council's Archaeology Field Unit says the site is of immense importance to the region.


"It's the site of a really important pagan Anglo Saxon burial ground... Men and women are buried with objects that reflect their role and status in life... so a very rich woman might be buried with jewellery such as brooches."



Ship Excavation Sheds Light on Napoleon's Attack on the Holy Land



A ship that sunk off the coast of Acre during the battles between Napoleon and the British Royal navy is still shrouded in mystery. Marine archaeologists from the University of Haifa are analyzing the hull and the finds in an effort to solve the mystery.


Newswise — Which navy commissioned the boat that sunk off the coast of Acre 200 years ago, which battles was it involved in and how did it end up at the bottom of the sea? The recent findings of marine archaeologists at the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies of the University of Haifa may provide the answers to these questions.


The ship, which sunk off the coast of Acre during a battle between Napoleon, the British navy and possibly the defenders of Acre, 200 years ago, is under excavation and its finds are beginning to shed light on Napoleon's attempt to conquer the Holy Land.


Recent marine excavations found cannon balls, canisters of gun powder and other items that will help give evidence as to the ship's journey and answer the questions facing marine archaeologists. It is not clear if the boat was involved in battles in 1799 or 1840, if it was a French or British boat or even if the boat sunk or was sunk. "This is the only shipwreck excavated from the period of the French blockade of Acre and it can teach us a lot about the naval battles of that period," explained Dr. Ya'acov Kahanov from the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies and the Department Of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa.


This large ship, 30 meters long and 9 meters wide, was discovered off the Acre coast in 1966, but systematic excavations have only just begun under the auspices of the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies of the University of Haifa in cooperation with the Nautical Archaeology Society of Great Britain and with the help of the Nautical College for Naval Officers in Acre. The fact that cannon balls, gun powder canisters, wineskins and metal buckles were found, attest to the fact that this ship was part of a naval fleet. The question of which battle it was involved in has yet to be answered, but the archaeologists do have some theories.


It seems that the story of this boat begins over 200 years ago. Researchers found a map in a British archive, drawn in 1799 by a British soldier, of the British formation off the coast of Acre, facing a blockade of Napoleon's ships. The map includes a symbol of a sunken ship, at exactly the spot where this ship was found. This map is the source of the theory that this ship was involved in the battles of 1799. In addition, one of the cannon balls was found wedged into the keel of the boat, exactly at the bottom. The location and the unique angle at which the cannon ball is positioned, has led researchers to believe that it was this cannon ball that sank the ship.


"One of the theories is that this is a "barricade ship" - a ship that the British purposely sunk at the entrance of the port in order to block smaller French ships from entering it. The leather buckles, gun power canisters and the rest of the finds need to be analyzed to verify how the ship ended up at the bottom of the sea. Once we understand these questions, we will be able to understand more about battle tactics of that period, "said Dr. Kahanov.



March 7, 2007

Archaeology study begins at slave market site

The Associated Press


NATCHEZ — Archaeologists are in Natchez this week to excavate a portion of the site of the Forks of the Road slave market as part of a study funded by the National Park Service and contracted by the city.


Archaeologist Warren Carruth said the work was particularly difficult.


“The nature of the soil is problematic,” Carruth said Tuesday. “It has the consistency of play dough and is hard to work through a screen for sifting.”


Carruth and two other archaeologists work for Panamerican Consultants Inc. of Tuscaloosa, Ala. Panamerican was hired by Mangi Environmental Group of McLean, Va., to perform the site assessment.


The City of Natchez contracted with the Mangi Group last year to perform a boundary survey and a feasibility study outlining possible management scenarios for the future of the site.


Congress provided $147,916 for the study.


The Forks of the Road market, by one historian’s account, probably looked like “a sprawling prison camp” where slaves would be haggled over and sold to cotton plantation owners who came from across the South.


The Mississippi River made for easy transport of slaves from the declining tobacco plantations near the Chesapeake Bay.


At its peak from about 1830 to 1863, up to 500 slaves could be found at the market on any given day. It’s thought to be the second largest slave market in the South, the biggest one in New Orleans. Trade at the Forks of the Road ended only with the Civil War.


The Forks of the Road was unique because slaves weren’t auctioned, but bargained over by buyers and sellers, historians said. The site was already a traditional market that straddled the city limits when it was bought to move slaves.