China reveals first clue in riddle of terra-cotta warriors
Xinhua News Agency
Story Filed: Friday, November 22, 2002 8:05 AM EST
ZHENGZHOU, Nov 22, 2002 (Xinhua via COMTEX)
The world-renowned terra-cotta warriors and horses unearthed from the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, or the first emperor of Qin dynasty (221-206 B.C.), were probably fired nearby, scientists have concluded after three years' hard work.
"This is the first step toward confirming the kiln sites, and before uncovering the secret of how the terra-cotta warriors and horses were made in ancient times," said Prof. Gao Zhengyao at Zhengzhou University in central China's Henan province, who was involved in the study.
How the ancient statues were made in the Qin Dynasty, the first feudal dynasty in Chinese history, remains a riddle since more than 7,000 terracottas were first unearthed in 1974.
Researchers from Zhengzhou University, the Beijing Normal University and Qin Shihuang Tomb Museum in Shaanxi province, northwest China, have been seeking answers to the mystery since 1999.
"It is hard to imagine how so many terra-cotta warriors and horses were made during the very brief dynasty, which existed 2000 years ago, as it would take months to duplicate one by modern means," said Gao.
The research team adopted microelement-analysis, a method that had been used worldwide for studying ancient ceramic wares, to deduce where the statues were made.
Their findings that the kiln sites were around the Qin Shi Huang Tomb was accepted by archaeologists from approximately 20 countries at the recently-ended International Forum on Ancient Ceramics Science and Technology held in Shanghai.
Copyright 2002 XINHUA NEWS AGENCY.
Bulgarian Archeologists a Step Away from Grand Discovery
Lifestyle: 28 November 2002, Thursday.
Bulgarian archeologists on their way to discover the ancient Dionysus temple in the Rhodopi Mountain famous in antique time for its splendor and in modernity for the many failed attempts to determine its exact location. Now, the expedition "Rhodopi 2002 - Dionysus temple" is searching the vicinity of mountain town Peshtera where it already discovered the Roman road that led to the sanctuary in ancient times. "This was he main thoroughfare in the Western Rhodopi Mountain that facilitated merchant contacts between ancient Thracian states and Peloponnesia. Thanks to the latest excavations, we located the road and we insist that the temple could be found in the vicinity of Peshtera," archeologist Kostadin Kisyov says. The hypothesis is supported by the discovery of four ancient fortresses that guarded the road. "Rhodopi 2002 - Dionysus temple" started in early 2002 funded by Vinprom Peshtera, one of Bulgaria's leading producers of spirits.
Japan team finds 2 chained human remains in Pompei ruins
Wednesday, November 27, 2002 at 09:30 JST
A team of Japanese archaeologists on Tuesday found the remains of two chained human bodies, apparently slaves, at the Pompei ruins in southern Italy.
The well-preserved skeletons were found outside a castle wall in the northern edge of the ruins, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.
One set of skeletons has chains still attached to a leg, and the other has a metal buckle around the waist. The researchers believe the buckle is part of a belt, possibly worn by a woman slave.
The two were apparently killed while trying to escape from the lava of Mt Vesuvius, which erupted in 79 A.D. and buried the region.
Pompei was a thriving city and home to 200,000 people before Mt. Vesuvius blew its top.
The ruins of Pompei covers an area of 640,000 square meters. Excavation began in the mid-18th century, and one third of the area still remains untouched.
The Japanese team has been participating in the excavation of Pompei ruins since 1994. (Kyodo News)
Honduran scientists to reconstruct face of Mayan city's founder
Story Filed: Monday, November 25, 2002 12:50 PM EST
Tegucigalpa, Nov 25, 2002 (EFE via COMTEX)
A group of scientists will attempt to reconstruct the facial features of the founder and first ruler of the great Mayan city of Copan, in western Honduras.
Forensic archaeologists and anthropologists plan to use X-rays and other tools to reconstruct the facial features of K'inich Yax K'uk'Mo' (Quetzal Guacamayo), whose remains were discovered in 1992, Honduran archaeologist Ricardo Agurcia said.
Agurcia, president of the privately-owned Copan Association, and a lead project researcher, did not reveal additional details about the project to the La Prensa newspaper.
The remains of K'inich Yax K'uk'Mo' were discovered in the acropolis of the Ruins of Copan Park, some 408 kilometers (254 miles) west of Tegucigalpa, and were surrounded by many offerings and ornaments, including two pectorals.
Nearby, researchers discovered the remains of a woman believed to have been the ruler's wife, whose tomb was looted in 1998.
Originally from Mexico, K'inich Yax K'uk'Mo' founded the Copan dynasty and is believed to have ruled between 426 and 435 A.D.
Copan had 16 rulers - the last one Yax Pasah (Madrugada or Dawn) - beginning in A.D. 763 - and how and why the city disappeared remains a mystery.
The Copan ruins in the west and the Bay Islands in the Caribbean are Honduras' main tourist attractions.
Researchers also uncovered stelae, or carved upright stone slabs, pyramids, altars, squares and hieroglyphic stairs containing the most extensive collection of pre-Columbian writing in the Americas.
The Rosalila Temple and a tomb believed to be that of another Mayan ruler have also been discovered in the past few years.
The Ruins of Copan Park were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
Copyright (c) 2002. Agencia EFE S.A.
Race to dig Iron Age site before ploughs move in
By Charles Clover, Environment Editor
The largest geophysical survey done in Britain has found an entire prehistoric, Roman and Anglo-Saxon landscape where none was previously known.
Anglo-Saxon settlements, lost for a thousand years, together with evidence of Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman ribbon-development up to 12 miles long have been found using the latest imaging techniques in the Vale of Pickering, North Yorks.
English Heritage said the discoveries meant that the archaeology of the settlement of Britain would have to be rewritten.
However, urgent action would be needed to ensure that the site and others were not destroyed by intensive agriculture. The Pickering site is worked by farmers being urged to grow potatoes.
David Miles, chief archaeologist with English Heritage, said that the finds, on sandy soils on the south side of the Vale of Pickering, showed the scale of what could be found in fields in other parts of Britain using the latest geophysical techniques.
Archaeologists are now involved in a race against time to buy the Pickering site, which covers an area of more than 2,000 acres, because a McCain's chip factory in Scarborough is encouraging farmers to grow potatoes on land where only shallow ploughing occurred before.
Potato growing uses deeper ploughs and harvesting from sandy soils is known to lead to erosion of up to 15 centimetres of soil a year and quickly erases fragile archaeology.
Researchers using the latest magnetometry equipment, which measures differences in the local magnetic field, walked 500 miles in the course of surveying fields between two villages.
Mr Miles described the finds as "fantastic". He said: "There were probably more people living there then than there are now.
"What it shows is that you have these enormous landscapes which are still unknown to us. There is enormously more to be found than we had expected. These new techniques are enabling us to see what we have never seen before."
He said the earliest of the discoveries - pre-historic field systems marked by pits and mounds for reasons yet to be explained - dated back 4,000 years.
Dominic Powlesland, of the Landscape Research Centre in the Vale of Pickering, said that until the survey the remains of only one Iron Age (300 BC-100 BC) settlement had been found in the vale. The survey found nine.
"The results were jaw-dropping - both from the point of view of the density of archaeology actually there and because we are only now realising how big is the destruction caused by new agricultural techniques."
"Rather than the odd Iron Age settlements there is continuous ribbon settlement, pretty much like present day settlements along a road."
Mr Powlesland said the area was sand covered with a layer of loam which had protected the prehistoric developments but if deeper ploughs cut into the loam "archaeologtical mayhem" would be caused. Action was needed urgently to protect what had been found.
Modern farming was more destructive because of bigger machines and the cultivation of places that had not formerly been cultivated.
"We are not trying to stop progress but to find ways in which farming can continue in ways whereby the past can be protected," said Mr Powlesland.
Contacts have been made with McCains, potato industry sources and local farmers who are said to be very anxious to find ways by which the discoveries can be safeguarded while allowing farming to continue.
News of the discoveries emerged at the launch of English Heritage's State of the Historic Environment Report, its first report on the overall historic environment including the landscape for the first time.
It said that in 1995, 32 per cent of all archaeological field monuments were being damaged by arable farming.
Fisherman finds Anglo-Saxon canoe off Suffolk coast
By Cahal Milmo
27 November 2002
A dugout canoe that was nearly chopped into firewood has turned out to be the oldest boat found off the British coast.
The 16ft vessel, carved from the trunk of an oak or elm tree, was used about 1,200 years ago by the Anglo-Saxons, possibly as a ferry close to the Suffolk coast where it was found.
Archaeologists believe the boat, which was discovered when it was dredged from a depth of 40ft by a trawler close to Southwold, is the only example of its kind dating back to the Anglo-Saxon era.
The vessel, which was probably fitted with stabilising outriggers, has spent the past four years submerged in a muddy lagoon at Covehithe, near Southwold, while conservationists worked on it.
Eventually, the necessary funding for the radio-carbon dating came from British Energy, the owner of the Sizewell nuclear power station close to the area where the boat was found. The process dated the vessel to between AD775 and AD845, before the reign of Alfred the Great and during raids along the East Anglian coast by the Vikings.
Stuart Bacon, the director of the Suffolk Underwater Studies Unit, said: "We have established that it is the oldest vessel ever found in the sea around the UK.
"It is very fortunate that the canoe was completely covered by a layer of protective silt and mud for most of the time when it was on the seabed – otherwise it would have been completely eaten away by worm."
The boat was found in 1998 by a fisherman, Rodney Collett, who had planned to cut the wooden hulk into logs but decided first to consult Mr Bacon, who realised its significance.
The boat was made by hollowing out the tree with a bladed carving tool called an adze and was probably used on the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads, which at the time would have stretched to the coastal spot where it was found.
The craft has now been moved to a marine laboratory for years of conservation work before it is transferred to a museum.
Second ancient relic returned to Ethiopia
By Amber Henshaw
BBC News Online Scotland
Friday, 22 November, 2002, 14:10 GMT
A sacred relic taken from an Ethiopian emperor by British troops 130 years ago has been returned to Addis Ababa.
A mystery British donor came forward with the amulet after learning that a Scottish church had already handed back another stolen artefact.
The amulet is a small, leather pouch, worn round the neck, containing a sacred parchment.
Most Ethiopians had thought it had been lost forever and its return is being hailed as a major victory by campaigners.
The amulet belonged to Emperor Theodore the Second.
He committed suicide when British troops invaded Ethiopia in 1867.
The relic was torn from his neck by the victors and ended up back in the UK.
Professor Richard Pankhurst is a leading campaigner for the Association for the Return of the Magdala Ethiopian treasure.
He says hundreds of precious manuscripts and religious artifacts were stolen in the 19th century.
Most of them are still in British museums and private collections.
Dr Pankhurst says they should all be returned.
The return of the amulet might never have happened if it had not been for a Scottish priest.
The Reverend John McLuckie, who was a missionary in Ethiopia, found a sacred tablet locked in a cupboard at the back of St John's Episcopal Church in Edinburgh.
It was a 400-year-old "tabot" - a replica of the Ark of the Covenant.
It was handed over to a delegation from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and returned to Ethiopia in February this year.
The next targets for repatriation are 10 tabots which are currently locked away at the British Museum.
The museum says its constitution prevents it from returning them.
Rail link destroys historic graveyard
Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 06:56 GMT
Thousands of graves, some containing the remains of French émigrés fleeing the French Revolution, are to be dug up to build a new high-speed rail link.
The cemetery near St Pancras station in north London is to be removed to make way for the new terminal for the Channel Tunnel rail link.
Archaeologists, who had hoped to have another two months to identify the graves and try to contact living relatives, have been told their time is up.
The construction consortium building the line said archaeologists always knew there was only a limited opportunity for investigation.
I don't think it is showing respect in the treatment of the dead people in the cemetery
Catherine Cavanagh, English Heritage
The Channel Tunnel Rail Link Company (CTRL) has been able to avoid the normal special permission required when building work disturbs a cemetery.
It operates under a 1996 Act of Parliament, giving it permission to remove graves as long as the work is done with respect and dignity for the dead.
The company said it does not know how many graves will be destroyed and did not reveal how the graves will removed.
A spokesman said: "We have all the relevant permissions required to carry out this process and are currently working with a competent specialist contractor to find the most appropriate methods."
English Heritage, the curator for the site, says the company will send in bulldozers to tip the graves in one mass pile.
The remains will then be taken away and re-interred at another cemetery in north London.
Catherine Cavanagh from English Heritage said: "It will become like one mass grave.
"I don't think it is showing respect in the treatment of the dead people in the cemetery.
"As well as the ethical aspect, there is a fantastic amount of information that will be lost."
Archaeologists had hoped to gather important evidence about life in London during the industrial revolution from the cemetary, which was first used in 1792.
English Heritage said there were around 4,000 graves.
Geraint Smith, Science Correspondent, Evening Standard, 26 November 2002, writes:
"More than 1,000 graves are being destroyed by contractors building the King's Cross Channel Tunnel terminal in what government advisers have called "a desecration" and "an outrage against human dignity".
Archaeologists excavating human remains from up to 2,000 graves have been suddenly ordered off the site of the Camley Street Cemetery at St Pancras as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link company (CTRL) prepares to start digging them out. They had completed work on only about 100 graves."
Read the full story at:
The CBA, together with English Heritage and Rescue, is attempting to put pressure on RLE to ensure that the burials are given the respect that they deserve and are excavated by trained archaeologists who have experience in preserving bodily integrity.
This case also raises wider concerns about the use of blanket legislation for major projects (cf airports and proposed business development zones) which bypasses the usual checks and balances in the planning system.
Assuming the "This is London Report" is correct.
Hang on a minute - what century are we in? What company is involved?
Who is funding this project?
Today is the day Tessa Jowell said: "I want a designation system
that sustains the historic environment as a whole rather than
relating in a piecemeal way to its constituent parts."
As RLE Environment Manager Paul Johnson said "We are of course
delighted to receive another award that recognises our stewardship of
the environment. To be praised as setting new standards in the rail
industry is a great compliment for everyone who has worked so hard to
ensure that CTRL is both designed and constructed in ways which
minimise its environmental impact."
CTRL has a policy of for example "the development of innovative
videos and other training aids designed to make site operatives
"think green" as part of the Target Zero Environmental Incidents
They have moved 12 listed buildings, excavated 40 archaeological
sites, protected bats and the grey mouse-ear plant. They have given 2
million for other environmental projects. Built bridges for animals
and won numerous awards.
What made this company come to the conclusion that doing something as
controversial and insensitive as this was the most appropriate course
of action, seemingly changing their mind at such short notice when
they have poured ?millions into archaeology on this project? How has
this situation arisen in the first place?
With a 5.2 billion budget for the project I can't believe money is an
issue - but the prospect of an extra six months may be. I can't
believe that with the array of archaeological advisors RLE have had,
and their calibre, that RLE were not aware of what clearing the
cemetery involved, what it would cost, how long it would take and
what the risks were.
A period of 24 weeks was "allowed" for the excavation of an estimated
1000-2000 graves. Suddenly this was curtailed, a grave clearance
contractor was moved in and the archaeological project stopped. In
three weeks 100 burials were excavated and thus the 1000-2000
burials, at the same rate, would take 30 to 60 weeks to excavate.
Clearly the original time estimate was on the low side. Have the
company/site project manager suddenly realised this, panicked and
then checked what their precise legal obligations actually are and
gone against their own company environmental policy?
Dr Peter Wardle
PRESS STATEMENT – 26.11.02
A Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) spokesman said: "It has been known for many years that essential CTRL works at St Pancras would necessitate the removal of human remains, the last of which was interred 150 years ago, from the former cemetery.
“We have all the relevant permissions required to carry out this process and are currently working with a competent specialist contractor to find the most appropriate methods. The work is screened from public view and the remains are taken to a cemetery in north London where they are reburied.
“There was only ever a limited opportunity for archaeological investigation to take place during works by the specialist exhumation contractor and that opportunity has now passed.”
The Channel Tunnel Rail Link is a major element of the British Government's
Private-Public Partnership, which enables important infrastructure to be
provided for the benefit of the public sector, while taking advantage of
private sector management and efficiency.
In 1996, following an international competition, London & Continental
Railways Limited (LCR) was selected by the Government to build and operate
the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, and to own and run Eurostar (UK) Limited, the
UK arm of the Eurostar train service from London to Paris and Brussels.
LCR's ordinary shareholders are Bechtel Ltd, SG Warburg & Co Ltd, National
Express Group PLC, Systra, London Electricity PLC, Arup Group Ltd and Sir
William Halcrow & Partners Ltd.
Work began on the CTRL in October 1998 to build the first section of CTRL
between the Channel Tunnel and Fawkham Junction. Agreement was reached for
Railtrack Group PLC to buy this first section from the LCR subsidiary, Union
Railways (South) Ltd.
Work on Section 2 began in July 2001. Union Railways (North) is the LCR
Subsidiary responsible for construction of this final section into central
Rail Link Engineering is a consortium of LCR's Engineering shareholders
being Arup Group Ltd, Bechtel Ltd, Sir William Halcrow & Partners Ltd and
Rail Link Engineering is the designer and project manager of both Section 1
and Section 2 of the CTRL and is responsible for managing the construction.
You could try bombarding their Press Officer Paul Ravenscroft, whose name is
given as a contact on the website - email@example.com
Unless my memory is completely gone, did not exactly the same thing
happen in the last century? Did not the tunnel north of St Pancras under
the Old Church encounter hundreds of burials, which the contractors of
the day said would be at a higher level? My memory is this caused a
great outcry at the time and the bodies were removed to Kensal Green
Yes, part of the cemetery was cleared when the Midland Railway was built through to St Pancras in the 1860s.
The article that appeared in yesterday's Evening Standard notes that there were apparently complaints made at the time and that the young Thomas Hardy was sent as an undertaker's assistant to help arrange the reburial.
What the article did not mention was that Hardy later wrote two poems about the incident, "The Levelled Churchyard" and "In the Cemetery" which I copy below. Tracking both down (isn't the internet wonderful sometimes!) and reading them for the first time yesterday I thought how especially resonant "The Levelled Churchyard" is in light of the current scenario. Both poems also give a hint of the historical context and more graphically the impact of this earlier phase of clearance:
The Levelled Churchyard
By Thomas Hardy
"O passenger, pray list and catch
Our sighs and piteous groans,
Half stifled in this jumbled patch
Of wrenched memorial stones!
"We late-lamented, resting here,
Are mixed to human jam,
And each to each exclaims in fear,
'I know not which I am!'
"The wicked people have annexed
The verses on the good;
A roaring drunkard sports the text
Teetotal Tommy should!
"Where we are huddled none can trace,
And if our names remain,
They pave some path or p-ing place
Where we have never lain!
"There's not a modest maiden elf
But dreads the final Trumpet,
Lest half of her should rise herself,
And half some local strumpet!
"From restorations of Thy fane,
From smoothings of Thy sward,
From zealous Churchmen's pick and plane
Deliver us O Lord! Amen!"
In the Cemetery -
"You see those mothers squabbling there?"
Remarks the man of the cemetery.
"One says in tears, ''Tis mine lies here!'
Another, 'Nay, mine, you Pharisee!'
Another, 'How dare you move my flowers
And put your own on this grave of ours!'
But all their children were laid therein
At different times, like sprats in a tin.
"And then the main drain had to cross,
And we moved the lot some nights ago,
And packed them away in the general foss
With hundreds more. But their folks don't know,
And as well cry over a new-laid drain
As anything else, to ease your pain!"
Pressure is growing on Rail Link Engineering (RLE) following a number of articles in the national and local press yesterday (including the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Evening Standard) and considerable TV and local radio interest in London (eg see the article on the BBC web site at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/2516907.stm which includes a video clip from a BBC London news programme featuring interviews with CBA Director George Lambrick and the local St Pancras vicar).
The Council for the Care of Churches and the Churches Funeral Group have issued a press statement as follows:
"The Council for the Care of Churches and the Churches Funeral Group have been informed that up to 7000 burials at the churchyard of St Pancras Old church are to be destroyed by machine during the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. We understand that normal exhumation and reinterment procedures appear to have been abandoned due to commercial pressures. We strongly urge the contractors and the government to allow sufficient time and facilities for the burials to be exhumed and reinterred in a decent and dignified manner."
At yesterday's meeting of the Historic Environment Forum in London, which included presentations by representatives of the main political parties, the politicians were asked for their reactions to RLE's plans. The Conservative Party's Shadow Minister for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport with specific responsibilities for the Arts and Tourism, Malcolm Moss MP, said that the proposals were "so objectionable that someone ought to step in, the Minister perhaps".
Apparently work is now underway to clear the cemetery using cemetery clearance contractors, and the way this is being done is to use a JCB with a large bucket to scoop up the (consecrated) earth containing the bones, dump it all into trucks, drive it off site and then pick through the soil to pull out the human bones for reburial.
Apparently, c 2000 burials have been exhumed by hand/exhumation contractor with archaeological presence, some of which were charnel. Of these, c 120 near-complete or complete individuals were retained by archaeologists for further analysis. In addition, charnel (disarticulated human bone) was recorded to an estimated number of c 150 individuals. It is estimated that over 2000 burials remain on the site. Approximately a third of the site under threat had been cleared before the archaeologists were pulled off site.
Two individuals whose remains have been exhumed and retained by archaeologists, complete with coffins fittings are:
Last Bishop of Avranches, Normandy (near Mont St Michel), Monseigneur Pierre Augustin Godart de Belbeuf
Jean Chartres Jullien, the comte of D'Andignes. Had the rank of colonel, another émigré from the revolution.
In 1791 a portion of the churchyard was allocated for the burial of refugees from the French revolution, for whose souls masses were said in a church in the South of France, also called St Pancras. The burial ground was extended in 1792, which is the area where exhumation is now taking place. Part of the ground was specifically set aside for the Catholic community in Camden. This short period of burial activity makes the assemblage even more significant as trends can be analysed over a couple of generations.
The CBA is working with other archaeological and church bodies to ask Government Ministers to use the powers available to them to ensure that the human remains on the site are treated with dignity and respect, and that the archaeological work is allowed to continue.
I suggest that all britarch members write/email the relevant Ministers which include:
Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, email firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com
David Blunkett, Home Secretary, email firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com
Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Transport, email firstname.lastname@example.org * email@example.com
(I've not had time to check these email addresses, but the format is fairly generic so I hope they will all work)
Copy all communications to Ministers to your local MP to make them aware of the strength of feeling on this issue as there are clearly wider ramifications (see CBA's earlier press release) and this may well happen in your own constituency one day....
I'll post further details out later today as events continue to unfold.
Channel Tunnel Rail Link
November 28, 2002
Press statement re: exhumation of human remains at St Pancras
The Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) project recognises its moral obligation to carry out the exhumations necessary to construct the new station at St. Pancras in a proper and respectful manner. It has been known for many years that essential CTRL works would necessitate the removal of human remains, the last of which were interred 150 years ago, from the former cemetery.
We have all the relevant permissions required to carry out this process and we are fully compliant with all our commitments. The work is being undertaken by a competent specialist contractor and the removals are screened from public view. The remains are taken to a cemetery in north
London where they are reburied.
In response to concerns expressed, we have met with representatives of the
Church of England and will continue to meet with the aim of reassuring them
that their concerns have been taken into account in a proposed change to the
method of exhumation.
This could have serious implications for the cost of the project and for its
completion date and it will be a challenge for us to minimise these effects.