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New clues to 36,000-year-old murder mystery

 

Scientists believe a 36,000-year-old Neanderthal whose skull was cracked was attacked.

 

The discovery provides only the second clear clue that the people fought each other with weapons.

 

A team of Swiss and French scientists discovered the wound after carrying out a computer reconstruction of the skull.

 

The forensic evidence showed the individual, thought to be a male adult, was struck on the top of the head by an object such as a stone axe.

 

Although the injury was severe, signs of healing indicate it was not fatal.

The location and nature of the wound showed it could not have been accidental or inflicted by a wild animal.

 

The Neanderthal, whose skull was found in a collapsed rock shelter near the village of St Cesaire in France, lived at a time when ancestors of modern humans were spreading throughout Europe and Asia.

 

Population density was low during the late Pleistocene era. Different groups met rarely and are thought to have tried to avoid encounters rather than engage in conflict.

 

The most likely explanation for the injury was an act of violence committed within a group of Neanderthals, said the researchers, led by Christoph Zollikofer at the University of Zurich.

 

Why the assault happened remains a mystery. The scientists write in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: "Motivations may range from a pre-meditated assault to a brief argument emerging from a temporary conflict between individuals, such as over social status, access to potential mates, or intragroup resources."

 

Story filed: 23:07 Monday 22nd April 2002

 

'Shakespeare's house' located

Maev Kennedy, arts and heritage correspondent

Guardian

Tuesday April 23, 2002

 

Remains of a timber framed house which Shakespeare may have built, and lived in with other actors from his company, have been found within a stone's throw of the site of his Globe theatre, and just round the corner from the modern replica where the 438th anniversary of his birth will be commemorated today.

 

The Globe theatre, and the actors' house, were built in 1599 in high drama worthy of the playwright. The company's lease on the theatre, on the north bank of the Thames, had expired. At dead of night, the managers and men of the company, probably including Shakespeare, dismantled the old building and ferried the timbers across to Southwark.

 

Their enraged former landlord, Giles Allen, bitterly described them as "ryotous ... armed ... with divers and manye unlawfull and offensive weapons ... pulling breaking and throwing downe the sayd Theater in verye outragious violent and riotous sort to the great disturbance and terrefyeing ... of divers others".

 

The site of the original Globe was located 12 years ago, and the design of the new Globe was altered to reflect the evidence for the length and angles of the original walls.

 

The new discovery is on the corner of the plot acquired in 1599 for the theatre, and could provide the first solid evidence for the off-stage life of Shakespeare and his colleagues.

 

Only a fragment has been excavated, but it matches the location of the house known to have been built on land leased to the Globe shareholders in 1599 including Shakespeare.

 

"We're never going to know for sure, but these finds do look extremely interesting, and well worth further work," Monica Kendall, an archaeologist and theatre worker, who has been researching the site, said yesterday.

 

The house built by the Chamberlain's Men was described as "adjoining" the Globe theatre, and like the Globe was burned down in 1613.

 

Finds suggest a very comfortable life, with fragments of wine glasses, some luxury imported pottery, and copious quantities of animal bones.

 

The timbers were found five years ago, in a limited excavation when archaeologists were permitted only a few trial trenches, before construction of flats and a car park.

 

One of the highlights of the new season at the Globe Theatre will be a Twelfth Night as accurate as possible to the style of Shakespeare's day, with an all-male cast and handmade costumes.

 

Remains belong to Napoleon's soldiers

 

The remains of 2,000 soldiers discovered in a mass grave in Lithuania are from Napoleon's army.

 

It's believed they died of cold, hunger and disease during the French emperor's disastrous invasion of Russia in the winter of 1812.

 

They were found last autumn by workers laying telecommunications cable in the country's capital Vilnius.

 

Although they were initially thought to date from the Second World War, it's now thought they're from the Napoleonic era.

 

The Independent says buttons, medals and scraps of French uniform unearthed among the bones in a 300ft trench back this up.

 

The grave is the first of its kind to be found and is expected to reveal how 450,000 soldiers from the army Napoleon led into Russia died during the retreat from Moscow.

 

Rimantas Jankauskas, an anthropologist and anatomist at Vilnius University, who led the Lithuanian-French excavation team at Vilnius, said: "Some of the bodies were in postures which showed they had frozen to death."

 

The skeletons were of males aged between 15 and 25. None of the bones showed signs of recent battle wounds.

 

Story filed: 10:43 Saturday 20th April 2002

 

London playing host to ancient Chinese Buddhas

 

A hoard of mysterious Chinese stone sculptures from the 5th and 6th Centuries are going on display in London.

 

The 35 Buddhas will be displayed at the Royal Academy from April 26 until July 14.

 

They're part of a set of 400 temple sculptures unearthed in north-eastern China in 1996.

 

The limestone statues were buried in a pit in the 11th Century and stayed they were found six years ago.

 

Many were broken but where possible they've been pieced together.

 

Cecilia Treves, the academy's exhibition curator, says none of the faces had been damaged.

 

She said: "It is a great mystery but I don't think they were deliberately smashed. Very probably limbs had broken off during 600 years of worship and the sculptures were simply laid to rest in a ritual with a lot of dignity."

 

The statues were painted and, although faded, the gold leaf and blue, red, green and ochre colours survived the burial, The Daily Telegraph reports.

 

The earliest Buddhas have Chinese features and later ones Indian features, indicating the spread of Buddhism along trade routes. One theory about their burial is that there were frequent iconoclastic raids by rival Taoists on Buddhist temples and monasteries.

 

The Royal Academy exhibition has been blessed by P K Lom, a Thai Buddhist monk from Buddhapadania Temple in Wimbledon.

 

Story filed: 08:33 Wednesday 24th April 2002

 

The Karzai regime recalls a native son and sculptor

April 20, 2002 Posted: 11:52 AM EDT (1552 GMT)

 

BAMIYAN, Afghanistan (AP) -- Watching his country's turmoil from exile for two decades, Afghan sculptor Amanulah Haiderzad says he always worried about two soaring statues of Buddha hewn into this barren valley's towering sandstone cliffs.

 

The ancient monuments escaped damage during the 10-year Soviet invasion and Afghanistan's civil war in the 1990s. But they were demolished last year by the Taliban regime, which said the Buddhas violated Islamic bans on human images and idolatry.

 

Now Haiderzad is back in Afghanistan for the first time in 23 years, returning at the request of the interim government to organize reconstruction of at least one of the statues. The smaller one, he says, may be kept in ruins as a monument to Taliban "barbarity."

 

"I had this dream to come back and visit, but not like this," the 62-year-old sculptor says on a plateau overlooking the site where the majestic statues stood.

Carved into a mountainside above the central city of Bamiyan in the third and fifth centuries, the Buddhas were considered international cultural treasures. The larger of the two, at 175 feet high, is thought to have been the world's tallest standing Buddha. The smaller statue was 115 feet tall.

 

Standing at the foot of the ruins of the larger Buddha, interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai promised on April 9 that his government will rebuild the ancient sculptures "as soon as possible."

 

"It's very sad," Karzai said, shaking his head as dozens of armed soldiers stood guard on steep cliffs above him. "For Afghanistan, it's a national tragedy."

Karzai made his promise soon after arriving in this remote central Afghan city, about 85 miles northwest of Kabul, aboard a Russian-built helicopter.

 

Around 1,000 people, including scores of women and children in bright purple and blue traditional robes, turned out to hear Karzai. Behind them stood dozens of soldiers on horseback.

 

The original Buddha statues were chiseled into a cliff in the central Bamiyan Valley on the ancient Silk Road linking Europe and Central Asia.

 

Although Haiderzad estimates the reconstruction job will take "four to five years," Karzai gave no idea when his government will actually start on the project -- or where it will get the money to do so.

 

He did promise his administration will do all it can to protect Afghanistan's minorities, including the Hazara. Bamiyan is the homeland of the Hazara, an ethnic minority that comprises about 10 percent of this mountainous nation's inhabitants. As followers of Islam's Shia branch, the Hazara are also a religious minority.

 

Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar's decision to destroy the statues in March 2001 was met with international fury -- UNESCO branded the act "a crime against culture" -- but the protests fell on deaf ears.

 

After trying for weeks to obliterate them with anti-aircraft guns and rockets, Taliban troops finally blew up the relics, placing explosives into holes bored into the rock.

 

"It was a very sad day for me," says Haiderzad, who saw the images on TV from his home in New York City.

 

"They didn't understand that these statues don't belong to the Taliban. They belong to Afghanistan, to human history."

 

The Buddhas' destruction was only one element of the Taliban assault on Afghan culture.

 

The Taliban banned music, television, movies and theater, and spent three days smashing statues in the Kabul Museum. A small version of the Bamiyan Buddhas sculpted by Haiderzad, now on display in Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel, also was defaced by the Taliban.

 

Today, only rubble is left of the tall statues -- giant sandstone rocks are piled where the Buddhas once stood.

 

Haiderzad says he visited the Bamiyan statues as a boy, and they inspired him to become a sculptor.

 

He studied sculpture in Italy for six years, and then established a fine arts department at Kabul University. But when the Soviets invaded in 1979, Haiderzad fled to the United States.

 

It's unclear whether both mammoth statues will be restored. Haiderzad says authorities are debating whether to rebuild both Buddhas. Clearly, expense figures into the issue.

 

Haiderzad estimates it will take four to five years to rebuild the larger statue, and just beginning the project is a huge undertaking.

 

Karzai's administration has no money for the project, and is now looking for "anyone, anywhere" to help out, Haiderzad says.

 

Karzai said his government has been in contact with UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, an agency charged with safeguarding the world's cultural heritage.

 

The sculptor says he hopes the project will put Afghans to work, including his former students at Kabul University.

 

"One thing I'm sure of -- we are going to use the same materials, the same techniques to do it," Haiderzad says, referring to the original builders.

 

Most Bamiyan residents say they welcome the government initiative.

 

"This was our heritage that the stupid Taliban destroyed," says one resident, Haji Hussein Ali.

 

"It's good that they are going to rebuild it."

 

But in a poor city that has been a battlefield for years, there are also other priorities.

 

The 55-year-old Ali rubs the tips of his fingers along a set of pink plastic prayer beads: "We cannot rebuild it on empty stomachs."

 

Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

Gypsies 'squat' at museum dedicated to their history

 

A museum devoted to Romania's gypsies has been taken over by modern-day members of the community.

 

A series of medieval farmhouses were recreated for an ethnographic museum on the history of the Roma to show their farming life in the Middle Ages.

 

But members of the local gypsy community have moved into them, complete with their horses and dogs.

 

They claim to have been given permission by the local council.

 

But museum director Fulop Janos has summoned the police in an effort to get them evicted from the exhibits.

 

There is now a tense stand off at the remote location of Cristuru Secuiesc in Harghita County.

 

Mr Janos said: "It's incredible, the way their minds work. They just did not understand why they could not live in one of the houses as no-one was using them.

 

"We spent millions restoring these treasures that are unique not only for Romania but for Europe, there is no way we will allow anyone to just move in and set up home."

 

A spokesman for the gypsies said: "We did not just turn up and demand to move in, we had actually applied for permission at the local council and they had granted it, and said it was a good idea that would bring these exhibits to life.

"But the museum chose to ignore the fact we had the council's blessing for our idea."

 

Story filed: 13:58 Wednesday 24th April 2002

 

"The Human Remains from HMS Pandora"

an article by D.Steptoe and

W.Wood has just been published in the electronic journal Internet

Archaeology, 11.

http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue11/steptoe_index.html

 

The first part of the story is well known...In 1787 Lieutenant Bligh was appointed to command the ship HMS Bounty to collect breadfruit from the

Pacific Islands. After successfully completing his mission, Bligh set sail for England but less than a month later, the famous mutiny, led by

Fletcher Christian, occurred and Bligh and several crew members were cast adrift in a longboat. Bligh managed to sail back to England to report the incident which resulted in the frigate HMS Pandora being commissioned to search the Pacific and bring the Bounty mutineers to justice.

 

In April 1789, after capturing 14 mutineers, the Pandora gave up further search and set sail for Timor via the Torres Straits. But while

negotiating the Great Barrier Reef for a safe passage, the Pandora struck a submerged outcrop of reef and sank. 31 crew and 4 mutineers lost their lives.

 

In 1977 the wreck of HMS Pandora was discovered off the north coast of Queensland, Australia and since 1983, the Queensland Museum Maritime Archaeology section has carried out systematic excavation of the wreck. During this time, more than 200 human bone and bone fragments were recovered. The subsequent osteological investigation that forms the core of this article, has revealed that this material represented three males, aged c.17, 22 and 28 years old. The three skeletons were named Tom, Dick and Harry and this article presents the results of the forensic archaeological examination of these individuals and tries to answer the question of who these individuals were.

 

Combining forensic evidence with a critical historical analysis, this at times moving investigation has attempted to shed some light on one

fascinating aspect of the wreck of the Pandora and the Bounty saga.

 

After some 200 years of submersion in a marine environment, unique taphonomic effects led to good preservation which in turn has allowed the

authors to identify in these individuals poor dental hygiene, signs of chronic diseases suggestive of rickets and syphilis , as well as evidence

of spina bifida.

 

The article contains a wealth of high quality images from the forensic study and from the Queensland Museum excavations, as well as an

interactive database of all the skeletal remains. This article will appeal and inform a wide readership from maritime historians to physical

anthropologists to anyone with an interest in the story of the Mutiny.