China Exclusive:

Chinese archaeologists discover world earliest millets


Updated: 2005-09-02 16:14


Chinese archaeologists have recently found the world earliest millets, dated back to about 8,000 years ago, on the grassland in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.


A large number of carbonized millets have been discovered by Chinese archaeologists at the Xinglonggou relics site in Chifeng City.


The discovery has changed the traditional opinion that millet, the staple food in ancient north China, originated in the Yellow River valley, Zhao Zhijun, a researcher with the Archaeology Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Xinhua on Friday.


Carbon-14 dating shows that the millets were from 8,000 to 7,500 years ago. The ancient millets still keep some features of wildness, said Zhao.


Archaeological discoveries show that the main cereals, including wheat, barley, rice and maize all originated 10,000 to 8,000 years ago.


"The new discovery indicates that millet was no exception," said Zhao.


He said that China has two centers of agricultural origin. The southern region had rice as the main crop and the northern region had millet as the main crop.


Academic circles both at home and abroad have conducted in-depth research into the origin of rice in recent years. But the origin of north China's dry-farming has not been paid enough attention by researchers, said Zhao.


However, archaeologists from Britain and Canada have shown great interest in the new discovery.


"The research into millet is becoming a new focus of archaeology," said Zhao.


He explained that many experts believe research into the origin and spread of millet may shed new light on exchanges between the ancient civilizations in the east and west.


It is a shared opinion that the exchanges between the east and west should be dated back to a time much earlier than the "Silk Road", a trading route between Asia and Europe about 2,000 years ago.


Some experts have found evidence that an ancient tribe nomadically traversed the vast Eurasian grassland about 10,000 to 8,000 years ago, helping to promote exchanges between the ancient civilizations in the east and west.


Millets were mainly distributed at the southern areas of the Eurasian grassland in ancient times. The new millet discoveries were located at the east end of the Eurasian grassland, said Zhao.


Archaeologists hope to use these new findings to illuminate the origin and transmission pathways of millets, Zhao added.



New Structure Found at Ancient Ohio Site

Tue Aug 30,10:56 AM ET


OREGONIA, Ohio - Archaeologists say they have something new to study at Fort Ancient State Memorial. A previously unknown circular structure about 200 feet in diameter was detected recently during preliminary work for an erosion-control project at the site of 2,000-year-old earthworks, state authorities said.


More study will be needed to determine whether the structure is an earthworks or the remains of a ditch that held a series of large posts or of some other kind of structure, state authorities said.


"The reaction is 'Wow!'" Jack Blosser, Fort Ancient's site manager, said of the new find. Blosser said the last major discovery at the site was the remains of several homes found during excavation for a museum and garden area built in 1998.


Ohio authorities said a magnetometer, which can show disruptions in magnetic soil particles, detected the structure below ground. They credited Jarrod Burks, an expert on remote sensing technologies with Ohio Valley Archaeological Consultants. The company, based in the Columbus suburb of Worthington, was contracted to work with Ohio Historical Society archaeologists for a survey this summer for a major erosion-control project. The work is being funded with the help of a $255,000 federal matching grant through the Save America's Treasures program of the National Park Service.


Fort Ancient's earthworks, built by an indigenous people called the Hopewell Indians, are 3.5 miles long, on nearly 100 hilltop acres above the Little Miami River in Warren County, about seven miles southeast of Lebanon.


The site was established as an Ohio state park in 1891, and a 1930s project by the federal Civilian Conservation Corps helped eliminate erosion and stabilize the earthworks, state authorities said. However, water runoff in recent years has led to the need for new anti-erosion work.


Brad Lepper, an archaeologist at the Ohio Historical Society, said the erosion-control project will move ahead, but with alterations to avoid disturbing the newly discovered area.


He said state archaeologists might partner with other scholars or seek additional funding to study the find and what it can tell about the Hopewells.


"Anytime there's a find at a site you think is already pretty well understood, it's always exciting to add to the picture," Lepper said.



Boys' booty turns out to be Viking hoard

Gwladys Fouché in Oslo

Friday September 2, 2005

The Guardian


At first, the Kruze family thought they were just toys their kids had been given.

In among the usual clutter which small boys like to brandish were a strange necklace with a dragon motif, and an enigmatic medallion.


It was only when an ancient-looking brooch appeared in the toybox mix that the Kruzes decided to do some research.


It turned out that twins Arthur and Teodor, aged five, and their cousin Jesper, also five, had not been playing with tat but with 1,200-year-old Viking treasure unearthed in the back garden. "After we checked on the internet, we realised that it was not something from H&M," said Marita Kruze, mother of the twins.


The playmates found the treasures at the foot of a tree in the garden as they were rooting around below their treehouse. The discovery in Tromsø, a town 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle, is exciting archaeologists, who believe it may shed light on Viking movements and settlements. "Never before has Viking jewellery of this kind been found in northern Norway," said one local archaeologist, Inger Storli. "In particular, the necklace with the dragon heads and the medallion are very special," she told the Nordlys newspaper.

Archaeologists have now found further artefacts - a silver cross, more jewellery, screws and nails.



Stunning jewelry find



Two playful five-year-olds in Tromsø have made an archeological find that has stunned experts.

The pair of boys discovered jewelry over 1,000 years old while playing near their house. Associate Professor Inger Storli at Tromsø Museum called the find sensational and unique, NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting) reports.


"Our eyes popped, because none of us had seen anything like it before," Storli told NRK.


The boys found the artifacts, estimated to be from around the year 900, under a tree root in the family garden. A large disc-shaped patterned pendant and a silver bead were uncovered by the Tromsø youngsters.


Archeologists have made additional discoveries after visiting the site, with a large silver chain with an apparently brass animal head at each end the most impressive.


The site of the find will now be thoroughly examined to see if more treasures from antiquity are hidden there.


Aftenposten English Web Desk

Jonathan Tisdall



Historic school unearthed in Tus

TEHRAN, Sept. 2 (MNA) -- A team of archaeologists discovered ruins of a historic school during their excavations in the town of Taberan of Old Tus in Razavi Khorasan Province, the director of the team Mohammad Toghraii announced Thursday.


Old Tus is a vast region covering an area of about 60,000 square kilometers consisting of four towns: Taberan (present-day Tus), Nughan (within present-day Mashhad), Radkan, and Taruqaban (present-day Torqabeh). It is bordered in the north by the Hezar-Masjed Mountains and in the south by the Binalud Mountains.


 “The archaeologists surmise that the school dates back to Khwarezm-shah dynasty (circa 1077–1231). If the hypothesis is proved, ruins of the school will be the oldest architectural remains of a school existing in Iran,” Toghraii said.


Located in Isfahan, Emamieh School is the oldest one still remaining in Iran, which dates back to 1349.


“The architecture of the school resembles Mongolian style. The initial studies indicate that the school has been reconstructed on its former plan. A number of inscriptions written in Kufic as well as some Achaemenid era bricks have also been discovered in the school,” he said.


Khwarezm-shah dynasty ruled in Central Asia and Iran, first as vassals of the Seljuqs and later as independent rulers. The dynasty was defeated by the Mongols in 1231 and their territories were taken over by them.


 “War and bloodshed were dominant on the region during the reign of Mongols and no efforts were made for reconstruction of Khorasan. This fact increases the possibility that it might date back to Achaemenid era. In addition, the earthenware and shards unearthed in the school belong to different eras, which can prove that the school is for Mongol era,” Toghraii explained.


The Nizamiyah School of Khargerd in Khorasan Razavi Province was the oldest school that has been ever recognized in Iran. The French archaeologist Andrea Goddard discovered an inscription in the site, indicating the year of 1058, but he could not find any architectural remains from the school.


Nizamiyahs were educational institutions founded by the powerful Seljuq minister Nizam-ul-Mulk (died in 1092), an Iranian from Khorasan. The institutions were called Nizamiyahs in his honor. The most famous of them, the Baghdad Nizamiyah, was established in 1067.








Huge ancient porcelain pit discovered

www.chinaview.cn 2005-09-01 08:22:51


    BEIJING, Sept. 1 -- About 1 million scraps of broken porcelain, some of which may be up to 800 years old, were unearthed recently from an enormous pit in downtown Beijing, the Beijing Municipal Cultural Heritage Bureau announced yesterday.


    However, the discovery has raised some puzzling questions for archaeologists, such as the origins of the pit itself and the long-lost techniques used in making the porcelain, according to the Beijing Academy of Cultural Heritage Studies.


    "It is very rare that a single pit contains so many different types of porcelain, and that the pieces seem to have come from at least seven ancient kilns, such as the famous Jingdezhen, Junyao and Dehua Kilns," said Zhu Zhigang, the academy researcher who led the excavation.


    Yu Ping, an expert in porcelain studies, said most pieces in the pit were made during the early and middle period of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Some are said to date back as early as the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368).


    "Their glaze and painted patterns are very delicate and vary quite a lot, which provides a lot of material for research," said Yu, who is also the deputy director of the cultural heritage bureau.


    Standing in front of more than 1,000 boxes piled high containing the excavated scraps, she added: "To reassemble a complete porcelain set from the numerous scraps will be very hard. We need much more investigation and study to solve these puzzles, especially how the pit came into being."


    According to Zhu, the "treasure bowl" 7.8 metres long, 5 metres wide and 4.3 metres deep was found in late July during a construction project in Maojiawan, located in the northwest corner of the imperial city of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).


    "The discovery of the pit also provides us with important clues on the evolution of ancient Beijing," Zhu said. Zhu, who also took part in archaeological excavations at several Olympic construction venues, said more than 1,000 sets of priceless relics including earthenware, goldware, porcelain and jadeware have also been unearthed there.


    According to the Law on Cultural Relics Protection, archaeological investigation and excavation must be done before a major construction project is carried out.


    "We have undertaken excavation at eight Olympic venues, including the Wukesong Cultural and Sports Centre, the Olympic Village and the National Stadium," Zhu said.


    "The total excavation area is more than 1.1 million square metres, and we have unearthed more than 450 ancient graves so far, dating from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) all the way back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24)."


    Mei Ninghua, director of the Beijing Municipal Cultural Heritage Bureau, said that as massive construction projects are being carried out around the 3,000-year-old city, archaeological workers will have unprecedented opportunities for additional finds, but also face challenges salvaging the relics.


    "It is very encouraging that the construction sector can team up with the cultural heritage protection departments to preserve ancient treasures," Mei said. "These are the common wealth of all human beings."Enditem


(Source: China Daily)




Release Date: Aug. 31, 2005  Contact: Will Dube 

 (585) 475-4954 or wjduns@rit.edu 

Groundbreaking Research Sheds Light on Ancient Mystery

RIT researcher creates new population model to help predict and prevent societal collapse


A researcher at Rochester Institute of Technology is unraveling a mystery surrounding Easter Island. William Basener, assistant professor of mathematics, has created the first mathematical formula to accurately model the island’s monumental societal collapse.


Between 1200 and 1500 A.D., the small, remote island, 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile, was inhabited by over 10,000 people and had a relatively sophisticated and technologically advanced society. During this time, inhabitants used large boats for fishing and navigation, constructed numerous buildings and built many of the large statues, known as Tiki Gods, for which the island is now best known. However, by the late 18th century, when European explorers first discovered the island, the population had dropped to 2,000 and islanders were living in near primitive conditions, with almost all elements of the previous society completely wiped out.


 “The reasons behind the Easter Island population crash are complex but do stem from the fact that the inhabitants eventually ran out of finite resources, including food and building materials, causing a massive famine and the collapse of their society,” Basener says. “Unfortunately, none of the current mathematical models used to study population development predict this sort of growth and quick decay in human communities.”


Population scientists use differential equation models to mimic the development of a society and predict how that population will change over time. Since incidents like Easter Island do not follow the normal progression of most societies, entirely new equations were needed to model the outcome. Computer simulations using Basener’s formula predict values very close to the actual archeological findings on Easter Island. His team’s results were recently published in SIAM Journal of Applied Math.


Basener will next use his formula to analyze the collapse of the Mayan and Viking populations. He also hopes to modify his work to predict population changes in modern day societies.


“It is my hope this research can be used to create a better understanding of past societies,” Basener adds. “It will also eventually help scientists and governments develop better population management skills to avert future famines and population collapses.”


Basener’s research was done in collaboration with David Ross, visiting professor of mathematics at the University of Virginia, mathematicians Bernie Brooks, Mike Radin and Tamas Wiandt and a group of RIT mathematics students.


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Balloons help spot ancient sites 


Archaeologists will use balloons to spot new sites

Archaeologists are to take to the skies above north Wales in hot air balloons in an attempt to spot long-lost ancient sites.

Balloonists preparing for the weekend's Llangollen Balloon Festival will take archaeologists up in their craft to allow them to take aerial photographs.


Many ancient sites can only be spotted from the air with slow-flying balloons ideal for landscape photography.


The balloon festival is due to be held in the town on 3 and 4 September.


'See outline'


Llangollen Balloon Festival organiser Christine Leggatt-Baggs said hot air balloons were ideal for helping archaeologists spot signs of old walls, roadways and settlements buried in the countryside.


She said: "Apparently there are sites that can only be seen from the air and as balloons are slow-flying, it's quite a good way to see the sites underneath.


"It might be sites are under the ground and you can only see the outline while you are flying.



 We can't actually specify where we're going because it all depends on where the wind takes us


Christine Leggatt-Baggs, festival organiser 


"It's perfect because aircraft go past too quickly."


Top of the airborne archaeologists' list to photograph is Dinas Bran Castle in Llangollen and the string of Iron Age hill forts that stretch along the Clwydian Range.


But Ms Leggatt-Baggs added that the balloonists could not guarantee they would fly over specific sites.


She said: "The problem with ballooning is you don't know where you're going.


"There are quite a few sites in the Dee Valley but we can't actually specify where we're going because it all depends on where the wind takes us. It's quite an adventure."


'New discoveries'


Fiona Gale, an archaeologist with Denbighshire Council's countryside services department, said the balloon trips would allow them to discover more about the county's heritage.


She added: "The late summer months are an ideal time for seeking more information on the wealth of archaeological sites that exist within the region.


"The hot dry weather helps expose the lines of old walls, roadways and settlement under the countryside and many new discoveries have been made using this technique.


"The high cost of these photographic surveys makes them financially unattractive, leaving many potentially important discoveries waiting to be explored.


"The fact that the Llangollen Balloon Festival falls at just the right time of year has created an obvious opportunity to further Denbighshire's understanding of its distant past."


The ninth Llangollen Balloon Festival is due to begin on Saturday at the town's Royal International Pavilion.


There will be balloon flights in the morning and late afternoon, with a highlight on Saturday night with balloons glowing in the dark to music and a firework display.




Major Storms Nothing New in New Orleans

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, Associated Press Writer

Thu Sep 1, 9:19 AM ET


WASHINGTON - The final tally will no doubt show Hurricane Katrina gave the New Orleans region its worst weather battering ever — but major storms are no stranger to the area.


As recently as Sept. 27, 1998, Hurricane Georges threatened the city, prompting a large scale evacuation of the Big Easy and the first use of the Louisiana Superdome as a last-resort shelter. That evacuation effort was the largest such effort in U.S. history to that time.


And as early as 1722, when the city was only a few years old, its first great hurricane arrived, on Sept. 12.


"Toward 10 o'clock in the evening there sprang up the most terrible hurricane which has been seen in these quarters," Diron D'Artaguiette wrote in his journal. "At New Orleans 34 houses were destroyed as well as the sheds, including the parsonage and hospital."


Again in 1779 a mighty storm swept into the city, prompting the then Spanish governor Bernardo de Galvez to report: "The village presents the most pitiful sight. There are but few houses which have not been destroyed, and there are so many wrecked to pieces."


William Dunbar, a longtime American resident of the region, reported on storms in 1779 and 1780.


"I was in New Orleans during the first of those two. More than half of the town was stript of its covering, many houses thrown down in town and country," Dunbar wrote, "no ship of vessel of any kind was seen on the river next morning.


The reports from D'Artaguiette, de Galvez and Dunbar are published in the book "Early American Hurricanes" by David M. Ludlum, which also notes major storms striking the region in 1794 and 1812.


Under the headline "Awful and Distressing," the New Orleans Gazette reported that the 1812 storm "continued with most dreadful violence for upwards of four hours."


An 1831 hurricane produced heavy damage when an overflow from Lake Pontchartrain swamped parts of the city. This was reported as the strongest since 1812 at New Orleans.


No less than three hurricanes battered the city in 1860.


"Another Terrific Storm," the New Orleans Picayune lamented in October, adding a new chapter to batterings in August and September.


More recent hurricanes blasting the Crescent City, according to the     National Weather Service, have included:


_Sept. 29, 1915: A devastating hurricane moved over Grand Isle and into the Greater New Orleans area. Winds were measured at 140 mph at Grand Isle. Some 275 people were killed across Southeast Louisiana. In Leeville, LA, only one building out of 100 survived the storm.


_Sept. 19, 1947: Hurricane crossed the Mississippi and Louisiana coast moving into Lake Borgne and over downtown New Orleans. Tides rose to 12 feet at Biloxi, Bay Saint Louis and Gulfport, Miss. A total of 51 lives were lost, 17 in Florida, 12 in Louisiana and 22 in Mississippi.


_Sept. 24, 1956: Hurricane Flossy completely submerged Grand Isle and bore down on the Greater New Orleans area. Residents evacuated to shelters with fear of the 1947 hurricane on their minds.


_Oct. 3, 1964: Hurricane Hilda reached maximum strength about 350 miles south of New Orleans and headed into Southeast Louisiana. Winds to 135 mph were recorded at Franklin, La. There were 38 fatalities.


_Sept. 9, 1965: Hurricane Betsy struck while the city was still recovering from Hilda. A storm surge of 10 feet caused New Orleans' worst flooding since the hurricane of 1947. Betsy claimed 81 lives and was the first U.S. hurricane to produce over $1 billion damage.


_Aug. 17, 1969: Hurricane Camille, a category 5 storm, the most powerful, came ashore just east of the mouth of the Mississippi, making landfall at Pass Christian, Miss. Winds sustained over 200 mph at peak and a 25-foot storm surge crashed into the coast. There were 258 deaths including nine in Louisiana.


• Aug. 26, 1992: Hurricane Andrew, after battering South Florida, moved into south Louisiana. Andrew spawned a deadly tornado in Laplace, La., killing 2 people and causing $1.5 million damage several hours prior to Andrew's landfall.