New Egyptian King Discovered
By Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News
A new Egyptian king has been discovered, according to Italian archaeologists digging at Luxor.
Known to be a high-ranking priest in the theocratic state of Amon at Thebes, Harwa was also a king ruling southern Egypt during the obscure period of the so-called Black Pharaohs, the Nubian kings of the 25th Dynasty.
A fat, bald man with a large face, almond-shaped eyes and thin lips, as portrayed in a statue, Harwa was born in the 8th century B.C. into a family of Theban priests. He must have been at the beginning of his career when Piankhy, the black Sudanese (or Kushite) king, conquered Egypt and founded the 25th Dynasty of the Pharaohs.
Egypt is being overwhelmed with discoveries. Nevine El-Aref checks out what has been an extremely fruitful and exciting archaeological season in both Luxor and Cairo
Last week the German-Egyptian team under the directorship of Hourig Sourouzian, which is restoring and conserving Kom Al-Hettan in Luxor, the site of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III, came upon three massive segments of statues dating from the 18th dynasty. One was the right side of a red quartzite colossus of Amenhotep III seated on a throne, the second the head of an unknown queen wearing a wig embellished with the uraeus, the cobra symbol of kingship, and the third a pair of well-shaped legs. The discoveries were made just two weeks after the official opening of the mortuary temple of Merenptah and its museum (See Al-Ahram Weekly No 582).
"The statue of Amenhotep III was found as a shapeless mass of quartzite with several cracks in his legs," Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni said. "Behind the protective sand another surprise was revealed: the beautifully sculpted head of the queen, and a miscellaneous pair of legs." The head of the queen is a fine piece, with the distinctive eyebrows, eyes and lips characteristic of the 18th dynasty.
The objects have attracted considerable attention and raised some comment. The legs, for example, are shapely, like those of a female, but without any indication of a linen shift. They could be the legs of a queen which, for an unknown reason, were left unfinished. Or, as the position of the legs and feet suggest, they could be Graeco-Roman rather than Pharaonic. However, Zahi Hawass, general secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), commented: "The temple of Amenhotep was a very large one, and excavations already carried out show there were numerous statues to adorn it. The newly- discovered legs could belong to any one of them, or even be the legs of a prince, not a queen at all. And as for the head, that, too, could be of a young prince."
Kom Al-Hettan has enormous potential and was listed in 1998 by the World Monuments Watch as one of the world's 100 most endangered monuments. The German-Egyptian team, which has been working there since the 1970s, has unearthed countless objects and architectural elements. These have been cleaned and restored, and placed on concrete pedestals in what is rapidly developing into an open-air museum. Others, as we can see from the above discoveries, are still coming to light. "We hope to recover more parts of the statue or statues, in which case they will be reconstructed," Hosni said.
In Cairo, contractors were in the process of restoring the mediaeval wall at Bab Al- Nasr when they came upon two headless sphinxes which had been used as a lintel for a hidden doorway which appears to have been used by Napoleon's soldiers after they had closed all the gates round Cairo. "The hieroglyphic texts on the sphinxes, which are well-sculpted and in very good condition, indicate that they date to the reign of Ramses II, 1250BC," said Ahmed Hani chairman of Aswan contractor organisation.
Contractors restoring parts of the mediaeval city continually chance upon historical monuments and artefacts, and the sphinxes will be removed and placed in an open-air museum currently being prepared adjacent to the site where all the artefacts found will be put on display. So far these include Islamic coins, weapons, pottery, miscellaneous objects and some impressive statues.
The discovery of a huge suspended headless sphinx in the heart of medieval Cairo is an unusual sight (above). At Kom El-Hettan, the Theban necropolis has been so thoroughly excavated, that it is thrilling to come across large and well preserved statues such as these unearthed last week
Laser face-lift for Parthenon
Using laser technology in combination with more traditional techniques, conservationists hope to have restored and cleaned a large portion of the pollution-scarred Parthenon sculptures by the summer of 2004. They are to be displayed in the new Acropolis Museum that Greece wants to have ready for the Games.
Late on Tuesday, the Culture Ministry’s top board of antiquities, the Central Archaeological Council, sanctioned the use of lasers for cleaning the blackened West Frieze of the temple.
The frieze consists of 16 slabs of marble quarried from Mount Pendeli, decorated in relief with a procession at the ancient Panathenaean festival held in honor of Athena, the patron goddess of Athens. Carved between 438 and 432 BC, the frieze was removed in 1993 to prevent further damage from acid rain.
The decision to use lasers followed lengthy testing on other, undecorated blocks of Pendelic marble from the fifth-century-BC Acropolis monuments. Work will start in three months’ time and each block will take six weeks to clean. Blasting with minute aluminium particles will also be used.
Ship confirmed as one used by Christopher Columbus
Experts are confident a ship found off the Panama coast did belong to Christopher Columbus.
After six months of research, scientists and archaeologists are sure the ship was used on his last trip to America.
It was found 155 miles east of Panama City.
Director of the National Culture Institute of Panama, Rafael Ruiloba, told the Clarin newspaper: "There is now sufficient evidence that this is La Vizcaina."
Researchers have learned the ship was made with the same material and using the same process used at the end of the 15th century.
It also coincides with the historic description of La Vizcaina.
Story filed: 15:52 Thursday 2nd May 2002
ENGLISH HERITAGE HELPS UNLOCK SECRETS OF UNIQUE MEDIEVAL WATER GARDEN AT SHROPSHIRE CASTLE
Archaeological Survey Reveals Possibly the Earliest and Largest Garden Viewing Mount Found in England
English Heritage Press Release 27 April 2002
The layout of a sophisticated 14th century garden landscaping project, in a design never before seen, has been revealed by an English Heritage funded archaeological survey undertaken at Whittington Castle near Oswestry in North Shropshire. Incorporating what is now suspected to be the earliest viewing mount ever found in England and an elaborate ditched water system, the castle grounds look set to transform current knowledge of early garden history.
It was only realised last summer that a medieval garden, long since lost, must have existed within the outer bailey of the picturesque castle, which is connected historically with the great Welsh leader Owain Glyndwr and in legend with the Holy Grail. The amazing breakthrough followed the discovery by historical researcher Peter King from Stourbridge of references to Whittington in old records, including one of 1413 to "a garden with a ditch of water around it." The significance of the reference immediately hit archaeologist Peter Brown, who has spent many years investigating the castle's history and co-ordinated the archaeological surveys.
Peter said: "It was a moment of immense excitement. I rushed to look at the castle plans and suddenly all the puzzling bits of information we had about the grounds from many different historical periods fell into place. I knew exactly where the medieval garden was likely to be."
Spurred on by the literary clues, last October archaeologists began a hunt for the garden using geophysical methods which look below the surface of the ground to map any remaining traces. English Heritage agreed to donate nearly £40,000 for the survey and for other work at the castle. Analysis of the results, recently completed, have revealed more exciting surprises.
Buzz Busby, English Heritage Archaeologist and Project Officer said: "The survey indicates that the garden at Whittington is unique for its date, both because of the completeness of its survival and its layout. It paints a fascinating new picture of a 14th century garden and is especially important because it may radically alter ideas about medieval garden design. Most of our knowledge has so far come from medieval manuscripts as very few remains of medieval gardens have ever come to light."
The greatest discovery is that the huge mound in the south east of the grounds is probably a very early viewing mount contemporary with the garden, likely, on documentary evidence, to have been in place by 1349. Until now the mount was thought to date from the 16th or17th centuries, like most garden mounts so far found. What little evidence there is for medieval mounts has suggested they were very small but this idea will now have to be revised in the light of the Whittington mount which is over five metres high.
Peter Brown explained: "The lines of paths and rectangular plot-like features of the medieval garden are shown on the survey leading towards the mount. They are not aligned with the rest of the garden area, as might be expected. This garden was clearly meant to be viewed from the top of the mount."
There would probably have been a "gloriette" or summer-house on top of the mount, reached by a stairway. All around flowed water from ditches adapted to ornamental use from the castle's defences, when Whittington Castle, no longer embroiled in wars on the Welsh frontier, became a peaceful retreat in the early 14th century.
Illustrations and descriptions in medieval manuscripts suggest the kind of garden the visitors to the mount could have admired from their lofty position. The enclosed garden, known as a "herber," would have been formally laid out, with beds of fragrant herbs and flowers, including roses and honeysuckle (to guard against medieval smells), divided by paths. There would perhaps have been turf seats. Medieval gardeners were also fond of orchards of mulberries and quinces and flowery meads, sewn with violets, forget-me-nots and daffodils.
The garden's creators were members of the Fitz Warin family which owned the castle from 1204 until 1420. One likely candidate is Fulk Fitz Warin VI (between 1315 and 1336) who would have amassed sufficient wealth by fighting for King Edward II in Scotland and France. Records describe gardens, fruits and herbage at the castle in 1330. Alternatively his son, who was a close ally of Edward III and fought at Crecy in 1346, could have been responsible.
To the west of the garden there is a long platform, perhaps used as an annexe to the garden. Its shape suggests it could have been used later in the garden's history as archery butts where bowmen practised their skills.
Whittington Castle Preservation Trust, managers of the castle on behalf of the local community, is in the process of buying it from its present owners. Colin Robinson, the Trust's Chairman said: "We are very grateful to English Heritage for funding the research project which has led to the discovery of the medieval garden. We now realise that Whittington Castle has far more significance than we ever imagined. We hope that this new understanding will encourage individuals and organisations to help further the research and develop a long-term conservation plan for this nationally important site."
The survey work was carried out by David Jordan and a team from Terra Nova under the co-ordination of Peter Brown Associates.
Pictures are available free to the press on www.papicselect.com. Go to Arts/English Heritage/Whittington Castle
To Register call Tiffinni Field on 020 7963 7531
The Norman castle was built in the 12th century to control the wild Welsh border country but there is thought to have been a settlement on the site since the ninth century when Roderick the Great, King of all Wales, is said to have erected a mansion. Owned by the Fitz Warin family, it was highly important in the 13th century during the Welsh wars. It was attacked by the Welsh under Llewellyn and in the 15th century by Owain Glyndwr, who challenged the future Henry V's claim for the right to be Prince of Wales. The most prominent features are now two imposing gatehouse towers dating from the early 13th century.
Whittington has been at the centre of many colourful tales and legends throughout the centuries. One account suggests that the Fitz Warins brought the Holy Grail back to the castle chapel from the Crusades. Dick Whittington was supposed to have begun his treck to London from the village and nearby Babbins Wood was claimed as the original gloomy location of the Babes in the Wood fairy tale.
The Whittington Preservation Trust is led by members of the local community and is planning to use the project for educational purposes and to promote the area. It has its own website at www.whittingtoncastle.co.uk which has information about the many events which are planned at the castle this year.A reconstruction of a medieval garden is on display at Prebendal Manor House at Nassington, Northamptonshire, website: www.prebendal-manor.demon.co.uk
Treasure-Hunters Beaten, Tied to Trees
Tue Apr 23, 8:36 AM ET
A senior Sri Lankan policeman was beaten up and tied to a tree by a group of villagers after being caught digging for buried treasure in an archaeological site, local newspapers said on Tuesday.
Villagers in the town of Balangoda grabbed 20 suspected treasure hunters, including the policeman, the state-run Daily News quoted an officer as saying in Balangoda, 120 km (75 miles) east of Colombo.
"Villagers tied the treasure hunters to trees until we got there," the paper said. It did not say what happened to the 20 or whether they would be charged.
Dozens of historical sites have been plundered in recent years by people looking for gold and precious stones widely rumored to lie buried under temples and palaces.
Unlocking the past
Sonoma Coast landmark may reveal mastodon, mammoth habits
By BOB NORBERG,THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Santa Rosa, California, April 27 - To climbers, the ancient rock stack on a lupine-covered terrace on the Sonoma Coast is Sunset Rock, a place to hang by their fingertips during tendon-straining traverses or rappel down vertical rock faces
"These are the best rocks in Sonoma County," said Alex Nopola, a Santa Rosa Junior College student who has been free-climbing the rocks for the past six months.
To state archaeologist Breck Parkman, however, the rock stack is Pleistocene Park, where rock edges and overhangs show high-gloss rubbings he believes were made 10,000 to 20,000 years ago, when the rocks were used as scratching posts by herds of migrating mastodons and mammoths.
He is turning to science in an attempt to prove his theory, including DNA sampling, putting rock profiles under an scanning electron microscope, using ground-penetrating radar and sifting soil for animal hair and skin and silica from ancient grasses.
If Parkman can prove his theory, it would give modern-day man an intimate view of prehistoric life.
"To have schoolkids come out here and quite literally touch the past, where these animals lived, would be very inspiring," Parkman said.
Parkman's theory has drawn mixed reactions from fellow scientists, who are attracted to the hypothesis even as they remain skeptical that evidence of such animal behavior could survive that length of time, or even be proved today.
"It is a real puzzle, and it would be quite a find if you could prove that happened," said Tom Anderson, a Sonoma State University geology professor.
"We have modern animals who make these features on rock, and there is no reason to think that extinct animals did not do the same thing," said George Jefferson, paleontologist with Anza-Borrego Desert State Park near San Diego. "They probably did. The hypothesis and the conjecture is perfectly viable."
Such rock rubbings are rare, but not unheard of. There are a dozen documented sites of rocks rubbed by prehistoric beasts in the mid-Canadian provinces and Minnesota.
It is also well known that Columbian mammoths and mastodons lived in Sonoma County. A mammoth jawbone and tusk fragments were found in 1972 near Bodega Head and mastodon fossils have been found near San Antonio Creek near the Marin County line.
And modern animals -- African elephants, bison and domesticated cows and sheep -- exhibit similar rubbing behavior today, using rock features to rub off insects and soothe itches.
Parkman, a state parks archaeologist for 25 years who specializes in American Indian rock art, quarrying and culture, found the rubbings in September while looking for signs of rock art, the etchings made in rock by historic native cultures.
The blueschist rock stack, which stands 60 feet tall, is part of the Sonoma Coast State Beaches parklands.
The rock stack shows distinct, smooth, polished areas from its base to 14 feet up. The polished areas are on sharp edges and under overhangs in areas where the large animals could have easily walked, and not in areas that have rock underfoot or in narrow passageways.
The rubbings also stop abruptly at 14 feet. Mammoths grew to 14 feet at the shoulder and mastodons to 8 feet at the shoulder.
From the pattern of the rubbings, it is easy to picture how such a large, prehistoric animal would have sidled up the rock stack to use it as a scratching post, Parkman said.
The rocks sit in the middle of a broad terrace adjacent to Highway 1, which follows an old Indian trail and pioneer road that was built on a game trail. During the Ice Age, 10,000 to 20,000 years ago, the ocean was 360 feet shallower and the terrace would have stretched another seven miles westward.
The terrace would have been mostly grass and grazing lands for herds of Columbian mammoths, mastodons and prehistoric horses. These herds migrated in an area that included the Santa Rosa Plains and Clear Lake.
Since the initial discovery, Parkman said he has found similar rubbings on seven other blueschist and chert rock formations between Jenner and Shell Beach.
Now, Parkman said he will conduct tests and enlist the advice of other scientists to rule out other explanations for the polished areas.
Parkman used a hand auger to drill test holes near the rocks, finding loose soil in the top 15 inches and a compacted area below it that could indicate soil packed by the constant walking of heavy animals, as on a migration trail.
Steve Norwick, an SSU environmental studies professor, said Friday he will study the rocks to see if there is any possibility the rubs were made by wind or soil erosion.
Another state parks scientist will be sampling soil to find phytoliths, the silica covering the epidermis of grasses, which would have passed through an animal's digestive system. He will be looking to see if they are in greater concentrations around the rock stack than elsewhere on the terrace.
Parkman said ground-penetrating radar can be used to look for fossils near the rocks. The mammoth fossils found near Bodega Head were buried only 18 inches.
Archaeologists will also dig pits and sift the soil to look for hair, flesh, bone or tusk fragments, using a technique pioneered by Oregon scientists to float hair out of soil.
If there are any pieces of hair or skin for DNA samples, they would most likely be in the soil and not on the rock faces, where it would have been difficult to survive exposure to wind, rain and salt, said Sandra Hollimon, SSU senior prehistoric archaeologist.
The coarse hair may have left grooves in the rock face, which would show up under a scanning electron microscope, said Michael Davis, who runs a UC Davis testing laboratory.
"We would see definite topography changes in the rock. Think about taking a piece of sandpaper and rubbing across the wood," Dunlap said. "We could see things like that at the thickness of hair."
For that test, either a piece of rock would need to be chipped off, or more likely, a silicon mold and cast would be made of the rock faces and then scanned.
In all, the work could take several years and cost $50,000. To fund the research, Parkman is hoping to interest a university, which could apply for science foundation grants.
"If I am wrong, at the least we would have learned more about our geology, at least we would have learned more about our history," Parkman said.
English Heritage Press Release 20 February 2002
The Long Man gets longer
Staff and agencies
Wednesday May 1, 2002
Bringing new meaning to the word 'maypole', the Long Man of Wilmington, a figure carved into the South Downs hillside, mysteriously sprouted a 20ft penis overnight in what experts say could have been a May Day fertility ritual.
While tourists gathered today to take photos of the 231ft figure in all its glory, Sussex Archaeological Society, said the penis could have been added to mark the ancient Beltaine Celtic Festival.
The Long Man, located near Eastbourne in East Sussex, is thought to have been cut into the chalk hillside by Druid settlers.
The penis had been painted on the grass and had not damaged the figure.
Henry Warner, a director at the archaeological society, said: "This could have been a mindless act of vandalism or it could have been something to do with the Celtic Beltaine Festival.
"In the Celtic system, the festival marks the start of the warm part of the year and was traditionally held at the beginning of May.
"Alternatively it could have been a fertility ritual. The figure may originally have had an appendage, like at Cerne Abbas, but the Victorians, who did not approve of such things, may have taken it off.
"But, whoever did this, we can never condone vandalism at the Long Man."
Others, however, were less impressed by the Long Man's open display of manliness.
White witch Kevin Carlyon, head of the British Coven of White Witches, said he was "up in arms" over the addition because "I have always said that the Long Man was a woman".
"I take chaps with problems to the Long Man at Wilmington and women to Cerne Abbas, but this makes a mockery of that."